I am Black history. From ancient Kemet to the Mississippi Delta, I do my best to honor the legacy of my ancestors. My understanding of Black history is not limited to February.
In my first book, I share how my elementary school recognized Black history month. I remember acknowledging popular figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Other notable civil rights activists were discussed during February, but not often mentioned at any other point of the school year. It was not until later that I learned more about the origins of Black history month.
In 1926, when Carter G. Woodson established “Negro History Week,” he intended to bring more awareness to contributions made by people from the African diaspora. Woodson challenged teachers and others to recognize writers, scientists, activists, and others ignored in history books. In addition to leading the charge to establish an annual celebration of Black history, Woodson authored several books.
In college, I read The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson. It influenced my perception of school and continues to linger with me today. In this book, he critiques the US education system and explains the importance of learning to develop social consciousness.
Through my professional and personal responsibilities, I believe I am honoring the legacy of Woodson and others before me. My writings reflect an awareness of Black history. Through practicing and sharing Capoeira, I am supporting the creativity of resistance used throughout the African diaspora. In fulfilling my roles as a father and husband, I am making a valuable contribution to my family and community.
Black history is not his-story. It also includes the contributions made by women, girls, children, and others throughout time.
From Queen Nzingha in Angola to Angela Davis in the United States, we must acknowledge how women have participated in actions aligned with freedom. Women continue to play pivotal roles in obtaining justice for all people.
Although February is over, let’s not allow our celebrations and acknowledgments to stop. Make time this week to provide young people with a diverse and inclusive understanding of how events, people, and ideas led us to where we are today. We have made some progress, and there remains much more for us to achieve. The February birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln influenced Woodson’s push for one month, but we have the power to celebrate our history throughout the year.
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