Yes, Black History Month is Still Necessary2/20/2013
Originally posted at Nikki and the City He asked me how come there isn’t a White History Month? I...
Originally posted at Nikki and the City
He asked me how come there isn’t a White History Month? I took a quick moment to gather myself. I couldn’t let the militant, down with the people, angry, say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud, Nikki surface. I’d gotten past the stage of being angry at white folks ignorance. This new and improved Nikki had to educate and inform, in a loving way. I briefly explained to him how our society is inundated with White History all year long, and the importance of not losing the entire American history that is richly laced with the African American experience. I’m quite sure he wasn’t expecting a response like that, but it was very necessary, and my eyes were officially opened. While every year I anticipated the arrival of Black History month and the passion filled festivities that accompanied it, somewhere in the world people were wondering “What is the point?”
Exactly what is the point?
Black History Month began as ‘Negro History Week’. Historian Carter G. Woodson founded the week, hoping it would eventually be obliterated, because White America would acknowledge the contributions of African Americans. That never happened. Although we have a Black President, we are not living in a post-racist society.
And just when I thought this post would justify the need for Black History Month to white folks, and a few blacks, rapper Lil’ Wayne helps me prove my point. Apparently the New Orleans rapper stated the following lyrics on artist Future’s remix of “Karate Chop”:
“Beat that p*ssy up like Emmett Till.”
This brother has officially crossed THEE line. Maybe Wayne was high when he spoke this lyric, but who cares? There are certain topics that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The tragic beating and death of Emmett Till is one of them. As an young African American male, one would hope Lil’ Wayne is well informed on the fact that Emmett Till’s death sparked the Civil Rights Movement. If it wasn’t for young Emmett’s death sparking the Movement, African Americans (including Lil’ Wayne) wouldn’t experience freedom as we know it today.
This generation doesn’t have a clue.
For grades 1-6, I attended Burnside Scholastic Academy here in Chicago. I’m unsure of how things are at Burnside today, but back then the administration was cut from a different fabric. Every morning after we said the Pledge of Allegiance, an old tape came on the intercom and we proudly sang ”Lift Every Voice and Sing” a.k.a. The Black National Anthem. When it was Black History Month, we knew it. On top of all the extra assemblies and programs, every February we’d have a Black History contest. The student who knew the most Black History facts would win a prize. I’m ecstatic to say I won a few times.
What was the point? As young black students we HAD to know. We had to know Garrett A. Morgan invented the stoplight and he was a black man. We had to know the first open heart surgery was performed by Daniel Hale Williams, a black man. I recently asked a group of young students who was Martin Luther King Jr. They told me King was the first black president. Times have surely changed.
It sounds cliche, but how can our children know where they’re going, if they fail to learn about where and who they’ve come from? Who’s going to inform the people (of all nationalities) about the major contributions African Americans have made to the entire world?
To answer my own question, yes, Black History Month is still necessary. However, we must learn the celebration of African American history shouldn’t begin or end in February. It has to be our lifestyle, especially for African Americans. The resources are plentiful.
Related:The Future of Black History: Looking for Young Black Leaders
To Be Young, Gifted, & Afro-Latina: 30 Afro-Latinas You Should Know
We Celebrate Ursula Burns
Nikki and the City is a For Harriet content partner. Visit Nikki and the City and Follow Nikki on Twitter.