“I’m Very Proud to Be Black but Black is Not All I Am”

“That’s my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it’s not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question”

-Denzell Washington

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.  President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

 

What does Black History Month mean to me today?

Black History is a time when African-Americans can take time to reflect on the things that people before us fought so hard for and are still fighting for today in some areas of our lives to some degree.  I recently watched the movie “Hidden Figures” which is an untold story about African American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history; the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, an achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.

After watching this movie, and seeing how much of a big deal it was for NASA and the world, I immediately felt like this was something that I was supposed to have already known and should have learned in school.  I felt like we were taught about Neil Armstrong. Why was this part of history left out?  I pondered on this for quite some time and finally accepted the fact that we as African Americans should not depend on the teachers at schools or people in general to teach us about us or any other part of history.  We must do our own research.  We should not wait until February to learn about Black History, although it is a good time to reflect.

I love the quote by Denzell Washington because it reminds me so much of myself.  I can only imagine that the women in the movie “Hidden Figures” felt the same way.  I am more than just a black woman.  I am a woman that graduated from Mississippi State University.  Majored in Risk Management, Insurance, and Financial planning with a minor in Economics. I have a Masters degree in Business Administration.  I am a business woman, smart, strong and well-rounded. Sadly, I have been looked over in my adult life for the mere color of my skin. But, because of the people that fought long and hard for equality, I am able to write this blog. I am also able to say that it will not stop me from pursuing my dreams.

We no longer can use the color of our skin as an excuse if we are not where we want to be in this life. There are many avenues that have been created for success for it to be an excuse. I have been blessed to be surrounded by awesome friends and loved ones who do not see color.  Black History is an opportunity for all Americans to learn something about the different parts that African Americans played and are playing in America.  There is even Black History being created today.  “I’m Very Proud to be Black, but it’s not All I Am”.

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