Appreciating Black History

Often times, people don’t take time to appreciate the past because it’s no longer in the present. Why waste time learning about the trials and tribulations of those that paved the way when you’ve never personally encountered it? It’s like the “out of sight, out of mind notion”. If you’ve never been told that you can’t eat at the same places or use the same facilities as another race because you’re counted as not equal among them, it’s not hard to think that that type of bondage is irrelevant in 2013. But how can we truly appreciate where we’re going or would like to go if we don’t value and embrace how far we’ve come? No one plans a trip without considering the distance traveled.

It’s pretty common for young people to show a lack of interest in things that don’t pertain to them. I myself am guilty of that. So it’s not news that many young people choose to opt out of learning about their heritage or just aren’t motivated enough to expand upon it. Black History Month should be a bigger deal than it currently is, especially to the black community and it’s youth. We annually acknolwdge Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman but I don’t believe the majority of our youth fully capitalizes on what it means to be a part of Black History.

For instnce, the teaching of Black History seems to be watered down in many cases. I went to an HBCU and I can honestly say that learning about Black history was not a priority in most cases and I don’t remember it being stressed to the student body other than during the month of February. I was actually only required to take one class that focused on Black history and unfortunately my professor at the time wasn’t fully invested in the ciriculumm so in the end I didn’t feel like I got as much out of the class as I intended.

I had the opportunity to whiteness two legendary members of the Black community Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte on television at the NAACPImage Awards last week. After hearing them speak on their contributions to the world and how they are still fighting for causes that help change it, I realized how courageous and dedicated members of their generation were to see change fulfilled and how we as a whole lack that type of enthusiasm today and I know without a doubt that we can do more.

The changes that the Black community has received throughout history as a whole have been gradual. The slaves were officially freed in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation but not everyone wanted to adhere. Decade after decade we were granted things like property, public facility use and the right to vote but nothing was really given fully access overnight. People still had to protest, get arrested, lose their jobs and anything else that conflicted with their desire to be counted nothing less then human. It’s because of their sacrifices that we as Black Americans have the lesuries that were once cocidered priveledges.

Let’s remember to appreciate and not take for┬ágranted what we have today that others didn’t have yesterday. We should do this┬ánot only during the designated month but everyday for all those that are fighting or fought selflessly to make better tomorrows.

C. Michelle

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