I am the daughter of a mother who was raised in a cozy middle-class household; and a father who was raised in a blue-collar multi-generation family. Both of my parents were active within the church and that is where they met. Even with their hard work, we lived in a low-income neighborhood but they taught me not to succumb to the environment that surrounded us. I was taught the importance of a good education and learning about my heritage.
Knowledge is indeed power and knowing your history is part of that power. Being raised in a household where the history of African Americans was shared, made me understand who I was and from whence I came. My maternal grandparents participated heavily within the NAACP, and with them being teachers could have been fired. But via creative tactics, they forged ahead.
My father served as Secretary within a local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. My mother volunteered for various causes. Both my parents were active in getting out the vote in our neighborhood. They are from whom I learned that activism is an action word.
Today is the first day of African American History Month commonly called Black History Month and there are people who don’t understand the need to continue the tradition. African Americans the great majority with ancestors who were enslaved are continually learning our history. School textbooks still distort the truth of the Civil War. A war fought in large part for the right of southern states to keep humans as enslaved labor.
We still have racial issues today. White supremacist groups rising up against anyone who doesn’t look like them. Black men and women are still harassed and murdered merely because of the color of their skin. Our society has a long way to go to true racial equality. This is one of many reasons why we must celebrate the legacy of Black leaders and pioneers who came before us.
I attended an elementary school with teachers that instilled every day the history of my heritage. They didn’t wait for a week in February that later became a month. Yet this is not the case for many school curriculums. The history of those who built the United States on their backs deserves to be known and remembered.
Black History Month is not about us versus them. It is about recognition and remembrance that was earned and is needed to be shared. A person from the African diaspora I am proud of my heritage and believe that letting it shine during the month of February each year is still greatly needed.
To learn more about Black History Month is also known as African American History Month and this year’s theme Black Migrations go to the website for the Association of the Study of African American Life and History, which was established in 1915.