Black History Month is one of the greatest celebrations in this world. It was created because Black history wasn’t, and still isn’t, being taught on a consistent basis. Anti-Black sentiment isn’t just an American thing — Blacks across this globe have been and are treated lesser and experience injustice to an extremely high degree.
For centuries Black people have carried this world on our backs as inventors of some of our daily comforts including the cell phone which was created by Henry T. Sampson, traffic lights created by Garret Morgan, and Daniel Hale Williams who performed the first open heart surgery, the list goes on.
Being Black is not merely a skin color but it is power, and if anyone says different, look through history. Black organizations and movements, like the Black Panther Party, the Black Power Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement were all attacked because of the power and promise that they possessed.
The threat of Black people lifting each other up and becoming more than what white society labeled us has and always will be a threat to white supremacy’s existence. Black Power is something that is powerful enough and strong enough to stand on its own, even after the moment has passed.
With President Obama getting ready to leave office and racism being ever-present, the Black community really needs to come together in order to form a plan of progression. The state of our community at this point is one of urgency, and I hope that as we are celebrating Black excellence in all its glory, melanin, and wonder, that we are also thinking collectively as to what our next moves need to look like.
Black History Month should be a platform that also aids, guides, and directs future progress.
I spoke with Patricia Duncan, business owner and author of “A Defining Moment “Barack Obama – The Historic Journey to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.” Her book was inducted into the Library of Congress in June, 2012. Her sister who passed away in 1999, Victoria Buckley, was Colorado’s first African American Secretary of State, and according to The Washington Post she was “the nation’s highest-ranking black female Republican in a statewide office.”
Mrs. Duncan helps to bridge the knowledge gap within her community making information and knowledge in general accessible to those around her, “The one thing I strive to share with my community is knowledge. My daddy always told me “knowledge is power”.
I cannot stress the importance of sharing knowledge amongst one another, it is not only necessary but vital to our community’s success. Black History is not easily found within school text books and we cannot rely on our education systems to share with us our history and a culture that this country and this world have tried so hard to eradicate.
In the race of life we all have the option to keep running, slow down, walk or stand still. In this race, Black people have proven time and again that there is a purpose to keep running, that we cannot stand still, and if we slow down, we must encourage each other and ourselves to keep moving forward no matter what.
The road that Mrs. Duncan has had to travel, and the sacrifices she’s had to make has helped pave the way for young African Americans to not only dream but chase after those dreams not matter the cost because as history has shown us a piece of the cost has already been paid for us we just have to be brave enough to carry on to the next level.
As many African-Americans have experienced, it is not always easy to be the first to do things. The racial backlash and the lack of notoriety for being able to be the best at what you do or having pride in your crafts isn’t usually a pleasant line to walk. It takes bravery, tenacity, and the confidence to work on the peak of excellence when individuals single you out on the bases of skin color alone. Black people have done it, we have surpassed all expectations placed upon us and continue to do so.
Jeffery McWhorter started out at a radio station at the age of 19 called KDKO and proceeded to pursue a rapping career for multiple years. Additionally, he is the NBA’s first in-game host and hype man, and now works for KS107.5.
“When I started with the Nuggets, they didn’t want to see a Black man on the floor hyping the crowd up,” he explained. “Kiki Vandeweghe was the manager and Harland was the entertainment head who brought me in. They encouraged me to stay, I used to get hate mail and hate emails the first year. The second year they loved me.”
The black community needs to pick a goal and stick it out and see it to fruition regardless of the negative backlash and the racial outbursts. It does take a lot to be the only Black individual to do something because people don’t understand nor do they choose to understand the process it took for them to get there, but imagine all we could do if we did work and did it well regardless of being the only ones.
In order to continue to move forward, collectively, and positively we must all have a good understanding as to what the past history and knowledge is in order to apply it to now and seek effective change for today. Times have changed and with the development of technology, Black peoples access to one another has increased. With this increase to access one another new leaders have been able to create a platform for themselves.
Apostle Leon Emerson, senior pastor at Now Faith Church in Denver, said “We are living in a different age — we used to live in an age where the church was all we had. So sermons, messages, etc. where tailored to address issues. Even in slavery there were song codes in church for the Underground Railroad. But as times have changed we now have so many ways to reach each other.”
This access is definitely one we could all use to the advantage, however new and up and coming leaders must have an understanding of the past and its effects as well as have a prepared agenda in order to successfully move forward.
Apostle Emerson also spoke to me about the new leaders coming out of this generation. “New leaders are coming out and ready to take the baton,” he said. “Older pastors and leaders need to pass the baton but the young people coming in need to listen. They need to understand the point that they might have hard times and the only way to do this is to be taught and prepared.”
We as African-Americans, especially as being part of the youth that will aid in the continued growth of our community, need to create a plan and be extremely intentional and strategic with each step we take. People are beginning to question whether or not we need a Black History Month — if we allow Black History Month to be taken from us that will begin the erasure of our culture and our people, they aren’t adding anymore Black History to textbooks than is already in there, we won’t have the ability to honor ourselves without having outside parties taking the initiative to give thanks to Black people. And it will further erase pieces of Black knowledge that have already been hidden from us.
Black History Month serves as a reminder of the struggle of a people who persevered surviving enslavement both mentally and physically to emerge victoriously. However, we never want to forget what it took and the people whose shoulders we stood upon to get where we are today, and most of all we should continue to educate and prepare the next generations to come to take on this legacy. It’s important that we never forget the slavery and those who gave their lives so that we might be free and live free.
The Black community has an unimaginable amount of power and an electrifying energy. If we put our efforts towards a planned agenda as a community, we could go so far. Black Lives Matter regardless of how long it has been in action, could and should be so much more, but as a community we need to sit down and pull all of the great minds who are aware of what is going on and have knowledge and ideas of an agenda to move forward.
I hope that this year, Black History is one of amazement and intentional necessity, I expect nothing less than greatness. And I hope that each of you take time to step out of just learning and promoting Black History and instead celebrate Black History and Black Culture all year around! Happy Black History Month.
Collegian Columnist Chynna Fayne can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ChynnaFayne.