Morgan Freeman said, “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” I understand what he is saying. We should be celebrating the history of Black people, as well as others, 365 days of the year. The problem is this hasn’t happened and that’s why it is still important for us to set aside time to pause and pay tribute to the accomplishments of our ancestors and the contributions they made to this country to help make it what it is today.
Recently, Our Authors Study Club, Inc. (OASC), the Los Angeles Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH), celebrated 75 years of Black History in downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center. The work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and Vassie D. Wright, the Founder of OASC in Los Angeles, is invaluable. Dr. Woodson’s dream was for ASALH to track and keep sociological and historical data and to promote the study of African American life and history. If Dr. Woodson desired to make sure we are aware of our history on a macro level, Mrs. Wright brought it home on a local area here in Los Angeles. It was her goal for us to study the biography of African American authors, reviewing their books, and learning the true history of African people from around the Diaspora.
Entities such as ASALH and OASC are so critical because the history, achievements and contributions of African Americans (and other minorities) have not always been accurately included in the telling of American history. We were not writing the books most of us were made to read growing up. If we don’t make sure we tell our stories they most often will not be told or documented. The problem still exists today. This is the reason why it is still important for us to keep the Black Press and Media. Just this month the Black News Channel premiered with the goal to provide 24-hour news to fill a void in representation.
It is my opinion and experience that historically, society promoted one race over another as being better, superior or right, which stimulates racism. This is reflected in the history we learn. It is said that history belongs to the one who writes it (and the last ones standing). We must stop that. We must be willing to learn from each other and respect the contributions that all communities and individuals have offered to help make up the fabric of American history. Let’s be Americans who value and respect the contributions of all its citizens. I am proud of the contributions my ancestors have provided to help make this country what it is today. Let’s not minimize anyone based on the color of their skin, culture or ethnicity.
This month when Joaquin Phoenix received his Oscar, he quoted something his brother River wrote, “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.” In his speech he also shared some of the areas where he fell short, but that he was grateful for a second chance. He went on to say that he felt we are all at our best when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity. Let’s take some lessons from his words. There is so much we can learn from each other; and when we show love (and I will add respect), truth and healing can and will take place.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
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