From the time I was knee-high to a junebug, there has always been a black history month to celebrate. Today someone told me that people want it abolished, especially the younger generation. To them it’s no longer relevent. I wholeheartedly disagree! They say, “Everyone knows about Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X!” Yes, people know about them but there are so many other heroes and sheroes who are lesser known, but their contributions are just as important or even more so in some cases. If they had not blazed the trails, then Martin, Rosa, and Malcolm could not have done the great things they did.
Crispus Attacks was an early freedom fighter who fought for freedom and independence in the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Banneker was a scientist, astronomer, and mathematician at a time when most blacks were considered subhuman. Dred Scott, a slave, argued in court for his freedom. Harriet Tubman, the Conductor of the Underground Railroad led many slaves to freedom using the North Star. Nat Turner, considered a revolutionary, led a slave rebellion to overcome oppression by slave masters. Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver used education to teach their race self-sufficiency. Ida B. Wells, a journalist and early civil rights activist, revealed the horrors of lynching that occurred throughout the South after Reconstruction. WEB Du Bois, an intellectual and political thinker, eloquently spoke about the ills of racism and lack of equality that existed in America. Marcus Garvey instilled a sense of pride in being black. Asa Phillip Randolph, labor and civil rights activist and organizer, fought for the rights of the Pullman Porters and others. Marian Anderson, one of the greatest singers of all time, was denied the right to sing inside Constitution Hall, instead she sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and her beautiful contralto voice was heard around the world. Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, successfully argued the Brown vs. Board of Education Topeka case and won, effectively ending legal segregation in the United States. The Deacons for Defense, a group of Louisiana deacons formed their own militia to defend the black residents of their town against the Klu Klux Klan. Medgar Evers, NAACP Field Secretary and activist led many successful boycotts and worked to integrate schools in Mississippi. Ella Baker was a civil rights activist and one of the founding members of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) and was also a power player in the freedom movement. Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi native and housewife, like many in her state had been denied the right to vote, but she fought back and became a voting and civil rights activist. She encouraged others to register to vote, became a member of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party, and later ran for Congress. Shirley Chisholm was the first black congresswoman and the first black woman to run for president in 1972.
There are so many others to write about, but you get the picture. Black history month is relevant. Everyone needs to know that blacks have made major contributions to society and continue to do so. As long as there is someone around to tell the story, these heroes and sheroes will never be forgotten. Read about them and tell others, and have a Happy Black History Month!