So, you have a problem with Black History Month?

Reflector Community

by Jamar Boyd II
This past summer I had the blessed privilege to intern in Charleston, SC. A city which I love and find much beauty in. The unique architecture, people, the low country and more. However, it’s an area which possesses a history that spans generations. One which is still noticed and honored with street names and statutes, but to a fault. The heritage and history of the majority is celebrated and honored, while the horrors of the minority are still present.
Yes, the city of Charleston is historic, but to a fault. There lies Calhoun St., after a Confederate General, while the market is comprised of the stations used to sell incoming slaves. Yes, Mother Emanuel AME lies in a prominent area of downtown, but just a few blocks behind lies the neglected “hood” of Charleston. History celebrated to a fault.
Every year conservatives, liberals, those within the minority, some in the majority, the uneducated, the uniformed, Uncle Toms and more make the idiotic and illogical statement, “there should be no black history month.” Leaving me with the response, “so you’re okay with celebrating white history 365, 366 this year, days a year?” Hmm…
Black History Week and now month was not established to solely learn about the history of African Americans, but celebrate them. Those who came here against their will, slaved day and night, raised other folks’ children while their families were divided, reformed Christianity, developed a language which could not be understood, pinned hymns and I could go on and on. But, you have a problem with Black History Month?
It’s those nigras, negroes, niggers, niggas, blacks, coloreds, Afro-Americans and now African Americans who established a greatness and excellence in this country which cannot be duplicated. Many have tried, but have failed every time. It’s African American women who bore their own children and raised the children of their masters. Not only that, but taught their wives how to cook, sew, care for their ill children, were often called mama or mammy and I could continue, but I won’t. It’s those black men who defied the odds.
After, being beaten, humiliated and persecuted they continued to fight. They discovered ways to read and write and ensure the others would become educated. It’s those black men and women who developed hymns and songs which looked to the future of freedom and the Promised Land. It’s those great black men who purged into the mere depths of scripture and developed a delivery and genius of homiletics which cannot be imitated, but is admired. It’s by the sweat of their brow and the intensity of their labor a unique people of God stand today.
I believe in my heart of hearts African Americans to be a people blessed by God Almighty. A people who’ve experienced persecution since the very beginning, but each and every time have formed greatness. A people which date back to Egypt and Cleopatra, not Elizabeth Taylor, a people who are highlighted in scripture, but often ignored to satisfy the ideas of one side; a people who have continually defied the odds of society. But, you have a problem with Black History Month? If you look back into your own family’s history, you might be surprised how much of an influential impact they had.
You see, African Americans have, do and will continue to make this nation great. Those such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth – black women who defied the odds. Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Nat King Cole, Maya Angelou – blacks who changed poetry and music. Shirley Chisholm, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. – blacks who changed American politics. Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Du Bois, Mary McLeod Bethune, E.V. Wilkins – blacks who changed education. C.H. Mason Patterson, Richard Allen, Gardner C. Taylor, F.D. Washington, C.L. Franklin, G.E. Patterson, Arthur Brazier, Samuel Dewitt Proctor and Elijah Muhammad – blacks who changed Christianity, religion and expanded the greatness of the black church. I could expound further, but I’ll cease.
I can’t continue without stating the fact we even established our own institutes of higher education, which still stand tall today. Whose bands develop a unique high grade of musical excellence and perform in 7-12 minutes better than any mainstream artist. Institutions that have produced the nations and world’s best advocates, doctors, educators, lawyers, preachers and servants. Institutions that include, but are not limited to Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Bowie State University, Grambling University, Florida A&M University, Southern University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, North Carolina A&T, Clark Atlanta, Morris College, Claflin University, South Carolina State University, Paine College, Tuskegee University, Johnson C. Smith and North Carolina Central University among others. Yes, it’s called black excellence.
The fact of the matter is Black History Month is needed and black history is American history. The inadequate materials in our schools regarding the contributions of African Americans is disturbing. We are more than slaves, Civil Rights activist and whatever else we’re shallowly highlighted as. It’s time to celebrate a people and honor a people who have, from day one, never been given our due justice. To dispute such would be a lie and disservice. This truth is evident day after day through our policies and politics.
President Barack H. Obama, our President – elected twice, of the United States of America is a living example. One who’s accomplished great feats, but has been denied more due to the color of his skin. A party who fights him left and right, calls him every name, but a child of God, denies healthcare to many, opportunities for quality education and cringes every time race comes about and calls it “race baiting.” A party which has presidential candidates using slogans, “Make America Great Again,” and calling him a terrorist, evil and the great divider, but ignore their own dividing and hateful contributions. While we continually fight policies which give blacks and minorities a considerable disadvantage in education, the workforce and just about every avenue of life.
So, this year how about this…embrace Black History Month. Stop telling black folk to get over slavery, stop calling all black men thugs and discretely (so you think) displaying prejudice against a people. It’s time you and this nation accept the fact black people have contributed greatly to this nation. We’ve developed the stop light, cell phone, household appliances – heck discovered peanuts and performed the first open heart surgery. There’s a greatness and uniqueness that’s within us to celebrated and even mimicked, although never imitated correctly or duplicated accurately.
My black is beautiful and so is yours.
– J.B.II
About Jamar:

Sports Management 
Spring 2016 Intern, Cam Newton Foundation

Executive Director, St. Jude Up ’til Dawn – Georgia Southern University
Second Vice President, Georgia Southern University NAACP 
Treasurer, Georgia NAACP State Conference Youth and College Division