ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Black History month is important to me because it helps our nation focus on the contributions of African-Americans, once an enslaved people now struggling for equality, and provides for them a sense of hope that America is their home too. It was once thought that there has never been a good time to be an African American living in the United States. From shortly after their arrival in the New Land to the present, African-Americans have been engaged in what has seemed an unending struggle for full acceptance and equal participation in the American experiment. But now, after nearly 400 years of labor, American Blacks are beginning to experience the joys that come with dominant culture acknowledgement that they are, in fact, contributing members of the American amalgam.
Constant subjugation takes a toll on any people. Loss of race-pride is one of the first casualties, followed closely by a loss of self-pride and then a sense of hopelessness. For the African-American, struggling for equality within the shores of America, hopelessness had been one of America’s most enduring legacies.
The hopelessness that characterized life for most Blacks in America had left them without purpose and a vision for the future. The work of Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History, became the catalyst which sparked in those hearts a desire to know more about their past, an explanation for the present condition, and a quest for a better future.
Today, the signs of change are apparent. America has elected its first Black president and the overt racism that was once entwined within the American fabric seems to have been dealt a fatal blow. More and more Americans are embracing multiculturalism and African- Americans are finding a place in the American mainstream.
Just before his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. shared with African America that, like Moses of old, he had been to the mountaintop and looked over and saw the Promised Land. He foretold that African-Americans, as a people, would indeed enter that Promised Land. King’s prophetic pronouncement was not made in vain. African- Americans no longer struggle with deliverance but reside as full residents in the land of “milk and honey.” Black History month is but one means to help us all remember to help keep the hope alive. As this month of remembrance comes to a close, it now remains for all of us to develop into a single nation of free men and women participating as equals within and receiving a full measure of the American Dream.
For more information, read the proclamation of President Barack Obama,