A Reflection on Black History Month

In this article, Patrick argues that the above image should be expanded to include less recognizable figures. In this article, Patrick argues that the above image should be expanded to include less recognizable figures.[/caption] Patrick Elliott   This past month of February was Black History Month. During this time of the year, Black Student Union (BSU)  likes to think about all of the people in African American culture who have influenced the world and to display them to the school.

        Unfortunately, it seems that the historical part of Black History Month only focuses on overly-publicized figures. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Malcom X were vital parts of the civil rights movement, but no one ever discusses Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize, or Dr. Carter G. Woodson who actually was the visionary behind making Black History Month what it is today. Both of these people were indispensable members of the black community, and prided themselves in seeking equality for African Americans. Even though they are important figures, the majority of the people reading this article have never heard of either of them. The point here is that our country is not doing an adequate job showing us a diverse group of activists during Black History Month. At the start of every February, television stations show Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks and then it cuts to a screen that says “Happy Black History Month.” Although appreciated, that does not truly show what this month is all about. This month is to honor the hundreds of men and women who fought hard so that I, as well as our other African American students, can go to a school like Latin. If this is to honor millions, why do we only talk about two or three?

This year BSU tried to fix this problem on a small scale by creating a calendar which features 28 historical African American figures (one for each day in February). The best part about this calendar is that a lot of the figures are not well known. The fact that BSU took the time to acknowledge people whose names have been forgotten throughout the blur of history is a reassuring, a great policy. When Milon Hutchinson and I are coheads next year we hope to continue this wonderful tradition instilled by our current heads Nadja Knox and Merlynn Pierre. They have helped us all see that hard work and dedication to an important cause will eventually lead to gratification from the public. These people fought hard for what they did, and now they are finally getting their deserved recognition. This calendar can be seen on the fourth floor in front of the cafeteria, and each person’s extended biography can be found on RomanNet.

        Another recurring problem that concerns me during Black History Month is who will represent our generation during Black History Month since all we seem to focus on now are the most popular icons. Barack Obama, athletes, and rappers, are the “trendy” blacks in today’s culture. Do you mean to tell me that our children will learn about Lil Wayne and Carmelo Anthony, but not Russell Simmons or Ursula Burns? There is nothing wrong with people in the entertainment industry, but those are the only figures of Black American culture that society sees. They don’t see the philanthropists, the mentors, the scientists, and doctors. No, society only takes the time to recognize African Americans as a group whose presence is felt strong throughout the sports world and the rap industry. Personally I want my kids to learn about someone more than just our black president when they study the phenomenal achievements done by African Americans in this time period. But for that to happen, we have to start expressing our gratitude for all of our black historical figures. We can only hope the next generation follows suit when it is time to look back at the African Americans of today.]]>