Feb. 1 marked the start of Black History Month – a time when the world pauses to reflect on the struggles, triumphs and contributions of African-Americans. It is a time when students learn a little more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Mary McLeod Bethune. It is a great time of discovery and reverence.
Yes, as an African-American I am proud when this time of year arrives. I’m happy because for a moment communities appreciate things many African-Americans honor daily. The question I have is, “Why wait for February?”
It is a history worth exploring. While there are long stretches of history stained by racism and discrimination, there are glorious strides that should be studied, discussed and celebrated year-round.
One way to raise awareness or educate ourselves is to think about the contributions of African-Americans while having routine conversations.
For example, if your son or daughter likes to watch traffic lights change colors (interestingly, some do), consider the opportunity to introduce them to Garrett Morgan. Morgan was an African-American businessman and inventor who is best known for his creation of the gas mask and the traffic signal.
I think many will agree one naturally feels a little better when their hair is done by either themselves or a professional. If you’re like my sister, you might be fortunate enough to know how to style your own hair.
However, if your son or daughter comes home and says, “Mom, I want to study cosmetology,” be ready to say, “That’s great. You will learn how to treat all textures of hair, which is a phenomenal skill.”
Imagine how surprised he or she would be if you said, “Did you know Madame C.J. Walker, through her creation and marketing of Black Hair Care products, became the first black female millionaire. Just a thought.
When schools and local organizations rally around the annual blood drive, this is another opportunity to explore black history. Charles Drew was an African-American physician who developed ways to process and store plasma in blood banks. He even directed the blood plasma programs in the United States and Great Britain during World War II, according to biography.com. He resigned from this post after it was determined the blood of African-Americans would be segregated.
Lovers of the written and spoken word might be excited to know that from 1993 to 1995, Rita Dove served as the first black Poet Laureate in America.
Honestly, the list of African-American achievements is continuous and too long to list in a column. As I thought about all the great community events held in honor of Black History Month, I just wondered if anyone ever thought to do a MLK celebration in November or study the life of Frederick Douglass in September.
Simply put, I think we should.
For fun, try visiting: www.biography.com or www.blackinventor.com.