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Why Black History Month Should Matter to Everyone

The conversation of race and equality is a tender issue, even in the year 2018.

I’ve never been in the shoes of a minority, but I still stand with every race and the history that led them to where they are today. Specifically, in light of Black History Month, I believe it’s important we all understand this month should be held in the highest regard.

All history is beautiful. Tragic events and mountaintop events alike are interwoven into a delicate tapestry of the roads our ancestors took to lead us to this point in our lives. We are all a part of history, and each day, we continue to make it.

For black men and women in the U.S., this history is filled with unspeakable hatred, sorrow and abuse. Although we make progress, stories from history seem to almost create a numbing effect on the discrimination our black predecessors endured. As a country, we seem to speak of racial prejudice as a thing of the past, but the month of February should remind us all of the fact, unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Prior to Black History Month, historian Carter Woodson of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History founded Negro History Week in 1929. Celebrated the second week of February, the week coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass Feb. 12 and 14.

Woodson’s aim was to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in public school curriculum. To no surprise, he faced backlash and criticism, but nevertheless, he persisted.

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” Woodson said to the doubters he stood against.

A celebration of history is crucial to every race. The Hebrews recognized this importance, and their history was preserved in the pages of the Bible. Because of the Bible’s historical accounts, they are a key factor in the development of our civilization.

We celebrate many historical figures in the U.S. who were minorities, but we do we recognize them in reverence like we should? Do we recognize all of them?

When “black history” pops in your head, your first initial thoughts may float to the great Martin Luther King Jr., courageous Rosa Parks or talented Maya Angelou.

But there are so many more. White history is not limited to a few key figures, and neither should any racial history.

We must recognize the lives which paved a way for our black friends, colleagues and brothers and sisters in Christ. We must celebrate individuals such as Sojourner Truth, the first black woman to win a court case against a white man when her 5-year-old was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama in 1826.

We must celebrate Dr. Patricia Bath, who invented a device which refined laser cataract surgery to revolutionize the field of ophthalmology, and George Carruthers, a famous astrophysicist who created the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph used by NASA in the launching of Apollo in 1972.

I could spend pages upon pages describing the incredible feats of black Americans. The simple point is, even though we have a “Black History Month,” are we truly using these few weeks to celebrate this culture?

As a nation, we have made progress over the years, but we must understand we have not made enough. Their history is all of ours because it is American history. We must listen. We must learn. We must celebrate.

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