As March approaches and Black History Month nears it’s end, I reflect on what this celebration means to me. It is a celebration of my culture and a tribute to the African-American men and women who have made significant contributions to not only America, but to the rest of world as well.
Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Growing up I have always been fascinated with black history and my “roots.” I liked learning about where my ancestors came from, their culture and all of the wonderful things that my people have done throughout history. Science, politics, law, sports, the arts, entertainment and many other fields are just some of areas that African-American men and women have greatly impacted.
As a child, I was taught in grade school about Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others. However, it wasn’t until college in my African-American Studies course that I learned of people such as Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henrietta Lacks, Professor Angela Davis, “the Father of Black History” Carter G. Woodson and many others. I became fascinated with these African-American figures and events that shaped not just African American history, but everyone’s history.
The more I learned, the more restless I became. There was so much that I didn’t know about my people and my culture that really mesmerized me. I decided that I wanted to learn more so I got busy.
I later learned from my grandfather that my ancestors could be traced back to what is now know as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I then started to do my research of the Congolese people and felt proud to now know where my bloodline derived and my ancestors’ culture. I couldn’t believe just how much black history there was to learn about and I felt saddened to think that there were a lot of people who would probably never know these things that I was beginning to learn. I want others to feel the pride that I felt and to also feel the amazement of learning new things.
I challenge all of my readers to go an extra mile and learn more about Black History. Research some of the names that I listed above who you may not have recognized. Anyone who takes the time to really do their research and takes time to read a little bit more is sure to be blown away by the many impossible things that African-Americans did in impossible times. Read about Benjamin Banneker, a self taught astronomer credited as the first African-American scientist or research the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that claimed the lives of four young girls.
I am convinced that the more we all learn about each other and our history, the more we will learn to respect each other and love each other. Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom, and sharing it is the first step to humanity. Take a extra time, to learn about facts. After all, we are all brothers and sisters, and we all share the same history.