My name is Justin Hart. I am a young black male from Columbia, SC on a journey to join the nation’s 2% of African American male educators. I am a junior elementary education major, a member of the Call Me MISTER cohort of Southern Wesleyan, a member of the Residence Life staff, and a cast member of this year’s SWU musical, Newsies!
Back in 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson announced the second week in February to be declared “Negro History Week.” This date was chosen because it coincided with both the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and the birthday of Frederick Douglass.
Black History Month means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Some folks don’t fully grasp the beauty of Black History Month, and that is okay. Some folks don’t think it is appropriate to celebrate black history separately for one month out of the year. To me, Black History Month is a chance for everyone to acknowledge the neglected accomplishments of Black people. It is a time to come together and intentionally celebrate all that Black people have come from and the strides we have made.
Let us not forget that many years ago, millions of Africans were stolen and brought to a foreign land to be sold. They were enslaved, treated unfairly, forced to live in unimaginable circumstances. To be able to go from being enslaved and not having any basic rights, to being able to live alongside my brothers and sisters of different ethnic and racial backgrounds is one of the greatest strides. To go from not being able to vote to celebrating the election of the first ever Black president. From not being able to read, and now black people are teaching others how to read themselves. Black Americans have made many strides and have accomplished a lot of things; Black History Month gives us the time to reflect on all the great things that Black Americans have done for the world and for our country.
For me personally, Black History Month is a time for my family and I to dig out the old recipes; and my grandma tells all the old stories about our lineage that she has heard from her mom and aunt. We find encouraging quotes from Maya Angelou and we share them with the people around us. We use this month to encourage ourselves of all the good we can do for the world.
Although Black history is U.S. history, Black History Month gives us the time to celebrate the Black American people and their accomplishments while encouraging us to aim for the moon in hopes of landing among the stars. Friends, let’s relish in that today and every day afterwards.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
– Maya Angelou