Black History Month: A Reflection

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Recently, Obama students reflected on the role of Black History Month in our society. How effective is a national commemoration of the contributions of people of color to our society? Does Black History Month go far enough? Does our school use February to its fullest potential as a time for education? And most importantly why is knowing black history important to our students?

Tiasia Harris speaks to the core purpose of Black History Month: “Black History Month is celebrated to acknowledge black accomplishments and to remember how African Americans have persevered.” Harris, however, describes this yearly observance as “starting to feel like … a broken record.” The general consensus among freshmen journalism students is that Black History Month is a time in which the story of African-Americans is relegated, set apart from students’ general study of history. These students envision a more holistic approach to the education of black history. Freshmen Layla McClain:

“Black history month is the only time we learn and celebrate the history and contributions that African Americans have made. Usually when we are learning about blacks in history class, we are taught about slavery or civil rights. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we were able to overcome so many adversities. I am proud that my people fought for our rights. But in the same sense I am disappointed that we are not learning about our great inventions and accomplishments. We are NOT just an oppressed culture.”

“There were too many contributions made by African-Americans to squeeze into one month.” adds student Terrance Harris “Inventors such as Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Madam CJ Walker made a huge impact on our country. These are a few well-known inventors. There have been many more who changed our world for the better. The main people who are talked about during this month are Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X. They deserve recognition, but the other people who made a difference deserve to be talked about too.”

Another freshman Mikaela DeCarlo explains the significance of black history to her. “We need more awareness.  I do my own research on Black History and police brutality. Being a white female, I know that reverse-racism does not exist. But the fact is white people do not have the proper information.”

Layla McClain feels a deep connection to her culture and, for that reason, sees the yearly allotment of 28-29 days as ultimately unsatisfactory. “Black History Month was a way for America to shut us up. A way to tell us why complain because now we have our own month! It is a way to push us to the side and think all the problems are solved now. But in no way at all has it ended racism. In no way at all has it stopped that little dark-skin girl from hating her skin. She looks forward to that one month because it’s the only time of the year when people actually appreciate her ancestor’s contributions to society. It’s the only time she is appreciated. So why can’t we make her feel appreciated all year round by honoring African-American history and contributions everyday just as we do with other races.”

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Black History Month: A Reflection