I wanted to share some things you can do, to make sure that the present and future generations will be aware that American History and World History is incomplete without Black History.
1. Watch, better yet purchase a documentary or movie that honors African-American history. Some of my favorites are HBO’s documentary, “The Legacy of the Black Athlete”, Spike Lee’s “Four Little Black Girls”, BBC’s “The History of Gospel Music”,Juan Williams, “Eyes on the Prize”, “Rosewood”, “Hurricane Carter”, and “Something the Lord Made,” featuring Mos Def.
2. I am sure you can buy more than one, but at least purchase one book that is either written by an African-American or written about an African-American. To list all my favorites would be impossible, but I think every household should have a copy of Dr. King’s speeches, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Alex Haley’s, “Roots”, Alice Walker’s, ‘The Color Purple’, Ernest Gaines, “A Lesson Before Dying”, Langston Hughes’s poems or short stories, The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Dubois’s Souls of Black Folks…and if you have children and have no books on Black History figures or with Black characters, shame on you. That is inexcusable. I’m just saying…
3. Sit down with your family, and discuss what it really meant to be a slave. You may be surprised by the responses you receive. Do not let your children be content to think slaves were happy with their arrangements on those plantations. Many school books have sketches of smiling enslaved children running and frolicking around the plantation. You have to dispel that myth. Slavery is one of the most vilest, inhumane, and disrespectful institutions ever established. If you or your children don’t feel that way about it, we all are in trouble.
4. Speak up and confront an injustice or disparity. What is your company’s commitment to diversity? Why are there no managers or supervisors of color? Get angry about being the “only” black in your office or in your class. That is not a compliment. Get angry if there are no blacks in your office or in your class. That is not a compliment.
5. Most importantly, do not let February be the only month that you ever acknowledge, study, research, or discuss Black History. Our future will not be secured by the celebrations and highlights that occur in 29 days. If we really want to create a brighter tomorrow, we will have to do it every single day. A story is written line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter. 29 days is a good start, but almost anyone will tell you that 29 pages is a horrible excuse for a history book.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you and our country will grow.