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Honoring and celebrating Black History Month

shutterstock_163395497Even today, eighty-eight years after historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Black History Month (BHM), honoring and celebrating it is still a very controversial issue among blacks and other races. Strong opinions of why it should and should not be celebrated are voiced throughout the year and specifically in the month of February.

BHM promotes opportunities for personal interactions and open dialogue between different cultures and races.  When U.S. citizens participate in educational discussions and personal interactions, we are exposed to the experiences and the daily dilemmas each of us encounter as we thrive to make positive contributions to society.

Choosing to honor BHM is a personal decision. I deliberately choose to learn more about my heritage through the best tools I know: education and life stories from elder family members. I research the contributions made by blacks and how they have influenced the culture and history of the U. S. in innumerable ways.

What do I think about honoring Black and African-American achievements in February?  I recognize and support the accomplishments of all Americans. I strongly believe these achievements should be celebrated all year long. However, I especially honor and support the celebration of BHM because of our rich past, a past that has largely been hidden from us.

BHM was established because there was so little information written about us in textbooks. Prior to the initiation of BHM, there was a ceaseless resistance to learn about the positive images of blacks. The most popular black history-makers were always highlighted. However, there were also sacrifices made by nameless slaves, servants and unsung heroes that were not highlighted, but they too made noteworthy contributions. Becoming knowledgeable and acquiring a better understanding our past history is crucial if we are to appreciate our current history. The month of February helps everyone to see and understand who African-Americans are individually, as a people, as a race, and most importantly see and understand our contributions to society.

Why is learning about our history so important to me? It is important to me because our history provides me with a more in-depth awareness into my past, who I am, who I can be and a sense of my own identity. We all want to be able to feel proud of our heritage and our own unique identity. The past holds valuable lessons about how to succeed and how to avoid costly mistakes. We define ourselves in terms of where we are going while reflecting on where we came from. History matters. How we view our past influences is how we respond to our present situations and future decisions.

Some of our history such as slavery, lynching, segregation, murder, blatant discrimination and violence are very painful events that happened. Yet heroes emerged as strong positive role models. My ancestors overcame numerous obstacles and challenges so that I could be afforded unlimited opportunities for a better life.

I believe BHM has earned being honored and celebrated because blacks are an intricate part of American history. It is my hope that BHM will always be honored to celebrate our rich culture and our numerous contributions and achievements. In the famous words of Marcus Garvey, “We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.”

13 comments on “Honoring and celebrating Black History Month

  1. Johnnie,
    You have done it again. I was so impressed with your last article I couldn’t wait for the next. This is an exceptional article on Black History. You are a gifted writer with a way with words. I agree with importance of honoring figures within this community. I feel as if Black History should not only be highlighted only in February but year round. As always I look forward to your next article. Take care.

    1. Thank you. I am so honored that you are enjoying my articles. Please stay tuned up for upcoming articles.

  2. Great article as always. I understand your reasoning about Black History Month. I feel as if there are great leaders within our community that sometimes get overlooked because they did have the big name or clout of the most popular leaders that are always talked about such as Martin Luther King Jr or Rosa Parks to name a few. I will share this article with family and friends. Thank you for a great read!!!

  3. Thank you Noel for your support and kind compliment. I agree with you as I also believe that there are some great leaders in every community that are making positive contributions to society. I am glad you enjoyed my article. Please frequent me next month for a new read.

  4. I am a first time reader of your articles. I really enjoyed this. You conveyed your perspective in a awesome manner. Great read.

  5. I was referred to reading your blog by my old colleague, Jack. I will say this is a must read. Nobody can begin to understand the heart and pain that occurred. It is even sadder that racism still exists but the leaders work was not in vain. In my neighborhood we host a celebration for leaders and entrepreneurs at the end of August. Its a fun event filled with music and great conversation. We have a segment where we talk to the kids and young adults about goals and how to achieve them. Within the last decade we have implemented a after-school program to superb success. I take pride in saying that they are not out on the street but trying to learn or help someone else. Black History Month should not only be highlighted just in February but year-round.

  6. Hello Blake, I am so grateful that Jack referred you to my post and thanks for your comment. I think your neighborhood is very fortunate to host such an enlightening event in August. The time that you are investing in the youth and young adults and implementing an effective after-school program will certainly have a positive influence on the participants. The more we expose and engage our youth and young adults with informational and educational activities, the better equipped they are to become future history makers. I wish you much continued success.

  7. Johnnie, thank you for that beautiful article. We as a nation should celebrate our heritage all year around. Black history month, gives society a stronger look at our achievements. It was not easy and we had to over come many of obstacles, but are ancestor’s made it through. The many stories that were not told can be told today through BHM.

    1. Hello Joyce, thank you for such a nice compliment. I agree with you as we have had so many obstacles to overcome. We keep BHM alive by remembering, honoring, and celebrating the accomplishments of our ancestors and recognizing the achievements of our future history makers.

  8. Johnnie this was a thoughtful article about the importance and significance about black history month. After reading this article I am even more convinced that this celebration is still needed!! You summed it up beautifully when you said: “History matters. How we view our past influences is how we respond to our present situations and future decisions”. I want to better educate myself so that I can properly educate my children about their history. I know this post is in March, but black history is year-round!! I look forward to reading more of your articles. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND MOTIVATION!!!

    1. Hello Ashley, thank you for reading my article. It is very important that we continue to educate ourselves about Black History and share this information with our children and family members. Thank you for your support.

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