Is Black History Month Still Relevant?

In a word, yes.  Today’s generation of children, tweens, and teenagers are so far removed from the ills that were suffered at the hands of segregation and racism.  I’m only one generation removed from attending segregated schools.  I have been called the “N” word and not by my homeboy/girl while we playing around or playing rap music.

Just because we’re grown or some people think racism doesn’t excist anymore doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t be made aware of the contributions made by Africans and African-Americans.  We’re inventors-we’re educators-we’re leaders-we’re politicians-we’re royalty.  I think people, especially our young people, forget that.  How many of us have heard of Garrett A. Morgan, Queen Nefertiti, Ethel Waters, Langston Hughes, Tutankhaten (better known as King Tut), or Shirley Chisolm?  We may have heard of them, but do we know the significant roles they played in this world?

When I was in the fifth grade, Southern mom ordered a series of books for me that related to notable Blacks.  (It’s my desire to pass them down to Southern children whenever I have them.)  There were about 10 books in the set, and each one discussed famous inventors, musicians, politicians, doctors, etc.  In middle school, we had do a report on a famous person.  As I figured most of my black classmates would choose Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X, the only 2 Black people that everyone seemed to mention when discussing Black History.  I chose Duke Ellington.  I dared to be different and to educate my teacher on someone she may not have known about (at least that’s what I thought in my 13 year old, egotistical mind :)).  I did get an A on that project.  I even did a paper on the Black Panther Party.  I believe I received an A on that assignment as well.

I took it upon myself, and still take it upon myself, to learn all I could about Black history.  I will never know everything, so why would I force myself to stop learning?  Black History is still being made.  We have Women’s History Month, Asian Heritage Month, and even Native American Heritage Month.  These months are not becoming obsolete, and neither is Black History Month.

Even as a child, I took it upon myself to educate those around me.  And I think I did a pretty good job.  I still continue to do the same thing today.  (Sometimes I think I really should have gone into the family “business” and become an educator!)  In an unofficial way, I am educating people-my readers, my followers, my friends.  But just because it’s 2013 doesn’t mean we stop learning about Black people; it also doesn’t mean that we stop striving to reach new heights and do great and awesome things to make some history ourselves.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact: The Stono Rebellion commenced on September 9, 1739 in South Carolina and was the largest slave revolt in the British mainland colonies before the American Revolution.  In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740, which prohibited the education, assembly, and movement of slaves.

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3 Comments

  1. This topic is near and dear to me. It makes me crazy that this generation has little knowledge and appreciation of their own, rich history. It makes me so angry that these very YOUNG parents are so busy, caught up in their own world that they make their kids’ worlds so short-sighted. My parents took great pride in educating my sister and me about our heritage and I do the same with my kids. The thing we, aa parents, have to contend with now is having to “unteach” many things that our kids may have learned from other outlets in order to give them the right information. If our kids knew the fight, the struggles….there’s no way in hell they would act as fool as they do these days. Black History Month -albeit the shortest month of the year – should always be relevant. LGBT awareness month…Hispanic Heritage Month…even Jewish Heritage Months are more celebrated by generations of folks more than February is by generations of Black folks…why?! Change must begin within.

  2. I agree that it is still relevant and have a Black History Month exhibit in my gallery in Georgetown. I spent 7 years as an advocate on poverty issues from 1993 to 2000. I l ived in a caretaker’s unit adjacent to an outstanding building on the corner of 9th and T NW – Shaw. The main building had been the first African-American music conservatory from about 1904 until being taken over by Howard U some time in 1968 or 9. While not everyone who came through there became famous, many of the famous black musicians did set foot in there at one time or another.

    Not sure where you live, but if you’re close to Georgetown, you might find the exhibit worthwhile – I know you would if you came. I also did a dvd that covers a lot of black history  that isn’t that well known.

    If any of this is of interest, feel free to contact me for more info.

    Dave Quammen

    Mocadc

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