Given recent and ongoing events, it seems more vital than ever Americans acknowledge and are continually educated on African American history, especially during this month of reflection.
Black History Month started on a small scale, but the recognition of it has been steadily increasing as the connections between cultures grow and the media grants it the coverage it so deserves and correspondingly needs. History in all areas is necessary because it allows mankind to examine their mistakes and then hopefully gain an ability to recognize similar patterns occurring in the present day.
If anything, this makes a general knowledge of Black history even more crucial because systematic and cultural issues from the past can be compared and contrasted to today’s concerns regarding race.
Many people in South Dakota grow up fairly sheltered from cultural diversity (not speaking for every individual) simply because of the lack of population and vicinity to larger cities. Because of this, it can be easy to be ignorant of racial discrepancies in the metropolitan areas.
Personally, I have not seen substantial amounts of educational opportunities in regards to Black history when traveling home to my own town and through smaller, more-remote areas. This is certainly not a blatant statement of blame, but a lack of information can sometimes cause just as much harm as malicious intent.
That being said, there is so much to gain from both the encouraging and heartbreaking sides of Black history. First, in order to begin to see through another’s eyes, people must be exposed to the disturbing hardships and discrimination African Americans have endured through the centuries.
This is why the nation’s history should never be censored, as distressing news is news most likely to inspire change. The more hopeful sections serve an equally important purpose. Individuals like W.E.B. Du Bois, Ella Baker, Sojourner Truth, and, of course, MLK and Rosa Parks–all possessed an innate and unquenchable desire for justice. Their life works have obviously been hugely impactful and fully comprehending the personal sacrifices of these civil rights activists inspires admiration and a desire to oppose injustice just as adamantly.
Everyone is entitled to opportunity in America, and, as the nation continues to mend itself from the atrocities of its past, people can do what they were meant to do since the beginning–learn, grow, and heal. This month is a dedicated time period of remembrance, but I hope reflections from Black History Month will become ongoing celebrations and advancements will always be in motion.