Black History Month is still needed. After having deep conversations with friends and coworkers I am more affirmed in my belief that Black History Month is not only needed, it’s necessary.
You may wonder why I am so adamant about it at this half way point.
#1 Have you talked to an African American youngster lately?
They need to hear positive information about African Americans and or history. They need to know about the experience across all the times in American History. They need to know about the first woman of bus boycotting action, Elizabeth Jennings Graham. They need to know about Samuel Fraunce who provided money towards the Revolutionary War. They need to know about Prince who fought during the Revolution. They need to know about the wealthiest Black Wall Street Broker, Jeremiah Hamilton who advised JP Morgan. For many of young people, Black History month is the only time they get to see people of color celebrated for things other than the arts. There is a generation that missed out on these stories because we were so busy being politically correct and blending in. I would bet there are people that you only learned about via Black History Month.
#2 In case you haven’t looked around lately, our contributions to the country I love still go ignored.
As a native New Yorker I am proud of the woman, who long before Rosa Parks stood up against the system, fought the system for a seat. Do you know about the wonderful contributions of a man named Pierre Toussaint? How about Benjamin Banneker or Sarah Boone? If we do not share their stories they will be lost in time.
#3 Every other culture and lifestyle gets to celebrate their culture.
For years we were not able to celebrate who we were and what we do. Our traditions are slowly evaporating and our culture is disappearing. This is a larger issue, than just AA’s, but, in particular the AA culture is disappearing. Doubt me? Do you recall an act ‘Nuthin’ But Strings?’ Ahhh… I bet you said no. In a time before this washed out period of talent, we are living in these young men would have been seen everywhere. We will lose the ability to celebrate the culture which has taught us to be proud. Do you know that there was a show on the air that was similar to Soul Train? Are you aware that the Back playwrights such as Tyler Perry and Je’Caryous Johnson carry on the legacy of August Wilson?
Which leads me to my final one.
#4 Black History month Triumph things, people, events and places that give us a sense of pride.
BET, TV One, Aspire, Bounce are much more than just entertainment meccas. They are brands that proclaim we are here. In case you missed it, we are having a struggle getting to the table to show we are here. A Black man as president and a Black woman as Vice President in the White House does not mean the struggle is over. It means the struggle continues. The hunger to be recognized is there. The ratings for shows like Scandal, Empire, Love & Hip Franchise and Housewives Franchise prove we hunger to see ourselves.
After all, this is what the loud cry Oscar nominations has been about. It is why Bridgeton has been such a success. We were able to see a handsome romantic strong lead. It has been about bringing the experience to the table. It is an experience that makes us celebrate our triumphs and achievements. It is an opportunity to get us to talk about things in an authentic way.