By Shemiza Basdeo
Black History Month originated to celebrate African Americans and their accomplishments despite ongoing oppression and discrimination from the past to the present day. During Black History Month, people take the opportunity to focus on African Americans’ contributions, whether to music or arts and learn from the past. There have been numerous police brutality acts against African Americans. Yet, instead of giving up, they come together as a community and a powerful force to fight for not only their rights but the rights of marginalized groups. They constantly question America’s ideologies of freedom, liberty, and justice for all and challenge the authorities to do better to make this a safe space for everyone.
“It’s appreciating the fire they put in place for us to have equal rights and opportunities today,” according to Fatou Gakou, an interdisciplinary studies major. People today have the courage and bravery to speak out against injustices because of our ancestors fighting for their rights, Gakou continued.
“Why is there a month dedicated to black history and not white history” is a common question that Professor Lindamichelle Baron of the Teacher Education Department gets asked. Her conclusion is that schools do not teach history truthfully.
“Historians ignore the rich heritage of the African continent,” said Baron.
Many times, textbooks are written by white men and tell the stories of whites. However, African Americans get put on the back burner, which silences them. The only time people learn about African Americans is when the topic of slavery comes up, according to Baron. But African Americans are known for so much more than the maltreatment, segregation, and discrimination they encountered and endured, stressed Baron.
The Harlem Renaissance is an example of a topic in which classes do not go in-depth for individuals to realize the importance of African Americans and their contributions and achievements. This proves that there are African Americans’ stories that have yet to be told, which is why Black History Month became an annual celebration. It is to tell the stories of an oppressed community that continues to resist, fight, and persevere, according to Baron.
For some, Black History Month is a time to live and commend heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr., who fought relentlessly. If it were not for African Americas fighting in the past to receive their equal rights, then she and her family would not have been given the privilege to come to America and start a life here, according to Veronica Paulino, a sociology major.
“It takes a lot for a community who has been negatively impacted systematically to continue to fight, but the fact that they continue truly shows their resilience,” said Paulino.