The month of February is the designated month to celebrate Black History. This is the time where black Americans adorn their dashiki’s, Kente cloth and view movies and documentaries about the struggle for equality. Black History month triggers a stronger sense of pride in African Americans due to the accomplishments of those who fought for change. I am truly grateful for the civil rights leaders and activists who made it possible for me to have equal rights in America. Although I must say that pride, culture and self-respect should not be celebrated one month out of a year.
I’m laughing right now… I feel like a major league athlete with seconds left on the game clock in a championship game. There is an ominous hush over the crowd in anticipation of what will happen next. In this case what I will say next! Many will not agree or like what I pen next but I’m entitled to my feelings and opinion. As a Christian and a writer I will write just that regardless of the backlash.
Quite a few use Black History month as a time to alienate other races and impose a sense of entitlement. Supposedly they feel African Americans are deserving of certain things due to the struggles of our fore fathers. The African American community has come a long way but at the same time we are hypocritical and ignorant to the fact that we have earned and taken our rightful seat in society. If you want a better position in society, you must earn it! Don’t expect it to be handed to you! My mother always told her children… “No one is going to hand you anything in life. You must go out and get it for yourself.” There are no reparations for slavery, no forty acres and a mule and if you are waiting for the voyage back to Africa let me make you aware of a fact. Africans do not consider “Black Americans” as Africans! We are called “White” in Africa. They have more respect for Caucasian Americans than Black Americans. I’m the ex-wife of a Nigerian prince of the Yoruba tribe and have been told this by many Africans and have been referred to as such constantly. As you may have noticed by now, no special privileges have been offered to you because there is a black president. It is us as a race who continue to oppress ourselves by failing to take advantage of the benefits obtained and allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed with complacency.
Black history month should not be used as a reason to turn up our noses at other races and cultures. I view Black history as American history; Civil Rights is a time to be recorded in American History. Once we as a country see and treat it as such the division among races will dissipate. I refuse to be a part of this separatist mentality and I know there are some of you who feel the same way. While we honor Black Americans who fought for us to have equal rights, lets honor the White Americans who fought as well. I honor the following Caucasian Americans for their role in the civil rights movement.
- Viola Liuzzo– Mother of 5 shot dead at the age of 39 while shuttling fellow activist to the Montgomery Airport after the “Bloody Sunday” march. She worked with Martin Luther King Jr. assisting with coordination and logistics.
- President Dwight Eisenhower– Used federal troops to assist the “Little Rock Nine” in 1957. With the Civil Rights Act of 1957, Eisenhower’s administration became the first since Reconstruction to pass civil rights legislation.
- Michael Henry Schwermer & Andrew Goodman– Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) field workers killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to their civil rights work, which included promoting voting registration among African Americans, most of whom had been disenfranchised in the state since 1890.
- President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy– June 11, 1963, President Kennedy spoke to the nation in a televised address to ask for support of the civil rights bill. He said, “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.”
- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt– She fought hard for legislation against lynching and lent her presence and support to the NAACP’s art exhibit on the problem. She challenged the segregation ordinance when at a convention in Birmingham in 1938. And when the Daughters of the American Revolution barred black opera singer Marian Andersen from performing at Constitution Hall, she withdrew her membership and told the nation why in one of her columns.
The list goes on and on!!! Just as I have done my research, I urge you to educate yourself about Black History in its entirety. This is important information!!!
How can we as a people continue to excel to great heights, if we continue to look in the rear view mirror instead of focusing on the road that will lead to a better future. America is multi- cultural melting pot, every day I wake up and see the beauty of this country through the diversity of its people. As a proud African American or Black woman which ever term you choose to use to describe my ethnicity. I really don’t care because my ethnicity alone does not determine who I am as a person. I am an American who refuses to hate or punish another person because of the fear and ignorance of another. This has been going on since the beginning of time. It can stop if we choose to take steps as a people to make a change. May this article be seen as my first step! What will be your first step towards change?