Black History Month and Its Significance

  February is often seen as the dreaded month in which Valentine’s Day occurs, a fruitless celebration and an excuse to buy heart-shaped boxes. During this month one very real, and very incredible celebration, often overlooked, that is actually stretched through the entire month, this is because February is National Black History Month.


  It seems simple enough, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Park, Malcolm X, and Jackie Robinson. Though I’d like to ask, have you heard of Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to publish a book? Perhaps you’ve heard of Guion Bluford, the first African-American to go to space? However you answered those questions, if you answered them, there is a whole world of knowledge, of struggle, of success and failure, that you may have never heard, that you may never know. African-Americans have a complex and bold culture, along with the pressures of society, and a white dominated society at that, bring some of the most beautiful influences in our society, to light.  


  I had the opportunity to sit down with two very intelligent and interesting strong African-American young women, to speak about not only the celebration of influential figures of the past, but of the present and future as well. When discussing Black History Month, Joya Adams, a BBCHS senior, she said, “I think people should know that Black culture is more than Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. We are constantly making history on a daily basis and that should be recognized and talked about more than what’s happened in the past.” Adams also shed some light on the current African-American culture that has been overlooked before, but is now seen for its beauty; she explains, “As of right now Black culture is thriving with many Blacks in media making their mark…the world is finally seeing Black people in a positive light and recognizing it.” Through her eyes, things seem clear and optimistic. Black History Month is one of many that she and many others learn about their race, their struggles and the struggles of their ancestors before them.


  Alana Hardaway, a BBCHS junior, takes a slightly different approach While she echoes the optimism of Adams’ statements, she also expands into fine detail, in a slightly more serious tone. Hardaway spoke of how stereotypes defaced the reputation of Black history, and how normalized it seemed for young African-American men to disrespect women, again soiling a very complex but breathtaking culture nonetheless. Hardaway also explained, “Other cultures use our hairstyles, and I don’t mind it, but if you do it, know the significance. If you’re going to do it, have soul with it.” This idea of cultural appropriation has become a huge topic of interest, as many influencers have been wearing braids and even dreadlocks.


  Hardaway also goes on to explain her views on how young black individuals need to know more than just the basic civil-rights leaders, “My mom got me a book on famous, influential black people. She’s raised me, teaching me about our ancestors, about strong black women. My mom is my hero; she has influenced me the most in my life and I’m very grateful for what she’s taught me.” Through this we can see that with passing time and new developments in recent history and developments coming in the future for Black culture, we still need to educate ourselves better on African-Americans influence past, present, and future.


  After reading this you may still have questions, as I did when I was not only interviewing these young women and doing my own research. I urge you, no matter what age or race, sexuality or gender you identify as, look into your history, and look into the history of others. Cultures around us are very rich and often misread and libeled for being misunderstood.