I was recently asked “What does Black History Month mean to you,” and I interpreted that as “what is the significance of black history,” to me. For me, I think of it similar to the biblical tradition of honoring your mother and father. Honoring our history not only because it simply exists, but because there is knowledge and wisdom in learning about our pasts.
We must not deny our history; because without it, it does not afford us the ability to understand, both culturally and as a nation, how we came to be. This is a time to highlight our history, regardless of color, for the wealth of culture we have contributed to this country. Similarly, it’s not about creating division, rather seeing the value we bring to the table. We tend to forget the value that we bring in being able to see the world different, which means we can solve problems from a different perspective.
In the present, Black History Month is a reminder that we have skills and talents, and an ability to create major contributions to the world, not defined by our circumstances. Looking towards the future, the knowledge of our history gives us hopes to be able to expand opportunities, drive industry, and as a community, think bigger.
If it wasn’t for an African American, we wouldn’t have traffic lights. If it wasn’t for an African American, we wouldn’t have peanut butter. We all recognize the person who discovered electricity, but not the African American who created electric lamps. Heart transplants, southern food, and the list goes on. Those who have made contributions to our daily lives, whether big or small, locally or globally, providing value for their communities, deserve to be honored and recognized for their contributions – yet many remain unnamed.
For me, everyone around me is someone whom I honor. My coworkers who push me further and remind me of who I am, my children who teach me about love, my parents who persevere, my brothers who challenge the status quo and continuously serve others, my grandparents who were born as sharecroppers and always fought for more. It doesn’t end. They are all worthy of accolades and recognition, but honoring shouldn’t be based on major contributions or accomplishments, rather what it means to me, in my world.