Today marks the start of Black History Month. We welcome almost any occasion that leads us to examine our past. Some people feel that Black History Month shouldn’t exist because its very existence leads to further racial angst. We at GIA respectfully disagree. As George Orwell said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Black Americans and their stories are an integral part of American history. One cannot began to understand the origin of many of the struggles we as a country are grappling with now if they fail to recognize the role of slavery and the subsequent systems put in place to prevent the advancement of Black people.
The study of the past imbues us with optimism and hope for the future instead of disdain for America and a demand for reparations. Young people are woefully ignorant of the freedoms and opportunities that they now enjoy due to the disciplined and nonviolent Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s. If we deny them the chance to study those who came before, they will believe that the version of history that those in the Black Lives Matter movement and others present is the truth.
People who dismiss Black History Month do themselves and the children of this country a disservice. Learning more about the contributions of Black Americans serves to broaden perspectives and presents a part of history that is often underrepresented in the average history text. If students never learn about the achievements of people who look like them, they will be ignorant of the role models that they should aspire to emulate in their own lives. Knowing one’s history has a stabilizing effect. As Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Borrowed from: Courtney Holloway Montgomery