I am old enough to remember when the second week in February was designated as Negro History Week. It was deemed so as a way to honor LIncoln and Frederick Douglas' birthdays.If I asked you when did Negro History Week evolve into Black History Month, could you answer that question without having to Google it? I suspect that there are people who do not realize that the first expansion took place at Kent State in 1970, which was my junior year in high school. The national expansion did not occur until 1976 when the United States was celebrating its Bicentennial as a nation.
Back then it was a big deal to folks who were making that transition from Negro to Black Power. A lot of events like teach ins, cultural events and memorial events were going on in our communities. We made it our business to be present in the moment to saturate ourselves with whatever flow was going on. We researched out information, shared our discoveries, beamed with pride because the hidden information about who are people were and what they had done was now in our hands. It was like discovering a new world in which the heroes and sheroes were just like us.
It would be two decades later that my own personal thoughts on Black History Month would expand. I wrote in one of my journals that Our Story is a 24/7/365 world wide event. This recognition of how I felt changed my approach about Our Story. From that day until now I have tried to make sure that my intake of facts was a steady flow on a year round basis.
I look at this month as being a time to renew our sense of who we are as a people. A time to look at what has happened and what is happening to the people of the African Diaspora. A time when those folks who are not motivated to get into Our Story on a daily basis can at least be exposed to the reality of what Black people have accomplished and contributed to the entire world. I know folks who will cram in as many activities as possible during this month because there is a large portion available and at the end of this month they will cut their intake off.
Then there are the folks like me, the ones who will continue to seek and find new sources of information that we can digest personally and share with others. The people who recognize that our story is a 24/7/365 global occurrence. We will continue to nourish ourselves and share portions of knowledge with others because we realize that American History will never be diverse enough to tell our truths.
I am tired of the lament over how the educational system is failing to teach our children Black History. If we are going to be honest about the reasons why our presence is minimized there is no way that the authors of that history can tell the story without exposing the ugly truths that are contained within it. If we are going to 100 about this situation then we already know that is not going to happen.
We have to be our own griots. We have to push to expand Our Story to be a round the clock daily set of events that span from the past to the present around the world.