Type into Google ‘Why is there a Black History Month?” (or alternately, “Why isn’t there a White History Month?”) and you’ll see how many people aren’t aware of why it’s important to ‘air out’ past historical wrongs and to present historical heroes. This, I think happens with a lot of historical events – our historical memory is short and once something is in the past we tend to think it doesn’t affect our present any more.
It’s a common misconception that the story of Black Americans ended in 1863-1865 with the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. However, here are 2 few facts worth knowing:
– Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955. This means anyone over the age of 58 was born into a world where Black Americans had to sit at the back of the bus in America.
– Black Americans were not able to attend segregated southern universities even up until the early 1960s. When James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962, 500 U.S. Marshalls had to be sent to ensure safety on campus due to riots. Meredith himself was accompanied to class by U.S. Marshalls for the two semesters he was enrolled in Political Sciences, before he transferred to another university. Anyone who is over the age of 50 today was born into a world where Black Americans did not have equal rights to education.
Here’s a neat project highlighted on CNN’s webpage today to document the life histories of former slaves. It’s humbling to remember a time period where Black Americans didn’t have the right to be called a person, to marry, or even to not have their children sold away from them: Black History Month