Now that we have a Black President I have heard rumblings that some feel Black History Month is no longer necessary.
Growing up Black History Month simply meant we would hear the “I Have A Dream Speech,” in school and talk about Fredrick Douglas, Pierre Toussaint L’Ouverture, Nat Turner, Eli Whitney, Langston Hughes, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and the guy who invented the stop light and gas mask.( To this day I can’t remember his name.) Once this obligation was filled we went right back to studying a very colorless history.
The only other time blacks were mentioned in histrory was when we did our yearly review of slavery. So I learned Black History was only discussed when it was forced and only when our role as Blacks was passive.
To get a well rounded view of how Blacks contributed to our country and to the world I would have had to dig that up on my own. Quite frankly, as I was growing up I was trying to find ways out of studying, so additional study time was not on my radar.
In college I remember taking an American Literature class and we were reviewing all the great 20th Century American Poets. Our final for the course was to write a research paper on an American poet from a provided list of poets. I surveyed the list and all the poets were White. The whole Harlem Renaissance and the group of powerful Black poets that came out of that was ignored. I approached my Professor and requested a poet off the list, Gwendolyn Brooks and I also pointed out the provided list lacked color. The Professor was shocked and agreed that this was an oversight and allowed me to do my research paper on Gwendolyn Brooks.
It was frustrating and still is that in order to get equal time in history a special request has to be made.
I was overjoyed when President Obama took the oath to become our President. My family and I drove the seven hours to D.C. to be a part of the inauguration. Thinking about this amazing day in history I still tear up. But I don’t think we have arrived just yet.
Sadly, Black History month is still necessary because it assures color will be added to our history lessons.
I long for the day when we can retire Black History month. I yearn for the day when I don’t have to hear King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on February first. I covet the day when some of his other amazing speeches are studied along side Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. When Yeats, Keating, Brown, and Milton are mentioned in the same sentence as Brooks, Hughes, Baraka, Dunbar, Collen, McKay, Bontemps , Angelou, and Hofmann(I guy can dream can’t he?) I crave the day when I can spit out the name of the guy who invented the stop light and gas mask as easily as I can Thomas Edison.
I pray the day will come when Black History is consumed by American History and there is no distinction between the two. On that day, I will gladly give up the shortest month of the year because it will no longer be necessary.
Check out my book Website, We have an update on the book, http://growingupblackinwhite.com
Next post scheduled for 2-10-10—“Tips and Clips” video blog on my son’s hair cuts and tips on the barber shop experience.