Black History Month doesn’t reduce our black history to one month. Instead Black History broadens our perspective of how we view not just black contributions American history, but, an appreciation for everyone.
I just read an argument against Black History Month by actor, Morgan Freeman, ‘You’re going to relegate my history to a month,’ in the Washington Post. Implying that Black History Month reduces black history to one month. However, this is not true, at all. The installation of Black History Month, in 1976. into America’s list of observances has done anything but reduce our history to a month.
When I was in elementary school, I can remember the limited mention of blacks in school issued history books. Because of this, the teachers were forced to create black history handouts to give to each student. I remember feeling very appreciative when a teacher would go to that extent to share a piece of my heritage with me. However, the sad part about this, is that some of the teachers would not even touch on black history, but, once during the whole school year. At this time black history observance was just one week a year.
Those black history handouts were treasured by me and were sheets that I would carry home proudly to show my parents. I would hold on to these pieces of paper and save them for months or even years. There were quite a few years of these handouts, before there was significant mention of black history in school issued text books. After those years of handouts, text books began including blacks in each each time line that students covered; still limited, however.
I credit Black History Month with opening up a door; giving all Americans the opportunity to learn about the contributions of black men and women. Yes, this is particularly important to young black girls and boys, but, teaching black history benefits all young people. Hopefully, having a broader view of how this country came about and how Black Americans contributed to our nation, will help tear down some of the misconceptions and stereotypes.
Black History Month is an observance that should be continued to be honored. The arguments, that it has become commercialized, is futile. In America, what hasn’t become commercialized? Black History Month is like anything else, it’s what you choose to make it. For me it marks a time when our nation showed me that I came from more than slavery, but, there were black people who were doctors, inventors, lawyers, business people, writers, scientists, and great educators.
To think of Black History Month as a limitation is very unfortunate. With our young black people seeking out gang affiliations in order to gain an identity and shedding each others’ blood in the streets over colors; there has never been a more urgent time for young people to be taught just where they came from. Yes, the times have been hard, but, we came through it then, and can overcome the things that challenge our communities now. Black History gives us vision and a realization that we can rise above our differences and tragedies.