Black history: celebrations and challenges

Malcolm X speaking / Contributed photo

Every February, the United States of America and Canada celebrate Black History Month. But what does that mean? Why do we celebrate it? 

Black History Month was started in the early 70’s in Kent State University by Black students and staff. Since that time, the celebration has spread to other nations around the world including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Black History Month celebrates the African diaspora throughout the world and the leaders of the community. The legacy of people like Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X are honored. These people united and inspired Black people throughout the nation. While they each had a different goals and values, they were all united in empowering the Black community to fight for equality and civil rights. 

Some people reflect on Black History Month and wonder, “Why isn’t there a White History Month?” When Americans learn about their history, it is through the perspective of the white upper class. History is written by the people in power and Black people, until relatively recently, have not had any real power in the United 

States. Black History Month seeks to educate people on the challenging history of the black citizens in the country, because the standard American history class have traditionally not focused on it. 

The recent murder of Tyre Nichols was a tragic way to start Black History Month, and the event can be seen as an example of ongoing systemic racism. Even though the police officers that killed Tyre were Black, it suggests that it is not just individual police officers that are at fault, but a system that is in place which continually exhibits excessive force and brutality against Black people. 

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a growing conservative push against the concept of systemic racism. Conservatives forcefully argue against the ideas taught by Critical Race Theory and the notion of reparations. 

Critical Race Theory has been thrown around as a term so much that it has lost all meaning. Recently the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has attempted to block AP African American Studies from being taught in school, because he equates it to be an “indoctrination” and it is a “lack of education value.” This is a bad sign for peopl

e interested in learning important historical events

Conservative groups consistently argue that history courses should be exclusively pro-American and reflect patriotic and nationalistic views. 

In response to this growing

 resentment, this Black History Month, I encourage anyone to read or watch a speech from a civil rights leader. Learn more about the flaws of the judicial system. When you see a protest, instead of writing it off, try to understand why people are doing it. As Dr. King stated best:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’”

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