Black History Month should change mindset

Published 5:22 pm Friday, February 28, 2014

Few Black History Months come and go without the importance of the annual celebration being questioned.

Every year, someone mentions how they perceive dedicating a month to African-Americans history as encouraging separation among races. I wish I had the opportunity to bring those people to the three Black History programs I visited this week, so they could witness how the power of that celebration goes far beyond education.

Black History month does more than inform everyone about the contribution African-Americans have made to American history. It reminds the younger generation growing up in a world that will not always treat them fairly based on their race that their worth is priceless.

As hard as it is to admit, we still have downfalls as a country. There are still times when multiple groups of people have been prejudged, discriminated against or shunned, because they are different.

I recognize the leaps and bounds America has made to be more accepting of all people, but I’m not blind to the injustices that still stand today.

I could not help but grin from ear to ear as I watched children as young as 5-years-old embrace their heritage after learning about all the people before them who contributed to the growth of this country. Those children need to see the greatness African-Americans have displayed over the years to motivate them to have pride in themselves and fulfill their full potential. Wanting to celebrate people that have meant so much to our forward progression as a race should not be perceived as a slap in the face to others.

I was overwhelmed with pride as I saw students of Martin Middle School, Knox Elementary School and Southside Primary cheer, laugh and smile at the mention of Black History. I literally watched students imitate greatness as they introduced themselves as African-American historians.

Unfortunately, there are times when African-Americans have been caged in a sickening mind-frame that suggests someone is keeping us from reaching our full potential. I can only hope that Black History Month steers people from that way of thinking and develop a healthier way of thinking. We must adopt the thinking of generations before us, who shed blood, sweat and tears to achieve their goals.

There is no other option but success, because our actions will speak to those that come after us. What we do today will stand as a testimony to the power of our current generation of people.

I hope the lessons and encouragement those students received at those Black History programs will remain with them throughout their lifetime and shape them into men and women we will later recognize as reasons we celebrate Black History Month.