A (Black Man's) Perspective on Black History on Technorati.)
As African Americans, we must never forget the blood, sweat, and tears that paved the road upon which we currently walk. Our rich history helps us to appreciate more deeply the freedoms we now enjoy. They were not simply given to us, though based on the stated ideals of our country these freedoms should have been a given for all Americans.
Born in South Georgia in the 1950s, I attended segregated schools until my second year in high school, which was in 1971. Desegregation did not come easy for us. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered our local school board officials to desegregate our public schools. From that time until 1971, seventeen years, our school officials dragged their feet and did nothing significant to respect the court. The school board’s failure to obey the law resulted in the courts taking over and beginning mandatory busing to achieve desegregation. This was met with riots and unrest in the schools. During the ten years following the mandatory busing, the public schools lost about 10,000 students, mostly whites, as their parents withdrew them. To make a rather long story short, it was not until 1994, that the school system was deemed sufficiently desegregated and was released from control of the courts.
Living through that experience has given me a great appreciation for the liberties I now enjoy as an African American. My perspective does not belong to most black youths of the current generation. To them, things have always been as they currently are. By and large, African American youths are not limited to black public schools, historically black colleges and universities, certain eating establishments, types of employment, or neighborhoods in which to live. I believe that as an African American parent, I do well to instill in my children an appreciation for black history. It adds value to the journey we have traveled as a people. For only through knowing where we started from can we know how far we have advanced. Imparting this body of knowledge to my children gives them a more wholesome perspective on the great opportunities they now have to pursue their dreams in life.
Blacks in America have come a long way, but we have not fully arrived. Our ancestors gave their lives to make ours better. We must take their accomplishments to a new level. That is, we must leverage the yield of their contributions, and add to them our own so we can meet the challenges of our current and even future generations.
We largely owe the celebration of Black History Month to a black scholar by the name of Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Noting that history books largely ignored the accomplishments of the black American population, he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and later founded the Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of blacks throughout American history. Negro History Week later became Black History Month.