Chasity Hurd | CIS of Mid-America Site Coordinator at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
Those who have no record of what their forbearers have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.Carter G. Woodson
Woodson, known as the Father of Black History Month, understood these words. Woodson reminds us of the importance of knowing our history, of keeping record of it, of learning it, teaching it and ensuring it is passed on to several generations over. When we do not know our history or omit parts of it, we lack an essential understanding of what and who we could become. The month of February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. I once heard, though, “Black history is everyone’s history” and as it is so, it is American History so we have the opportunity to celebrate it beyond its given 29 days. We have the opportunity to do what Woodson suggests- learn. Here and now we celebrate the history of African Americans. First, we look at the days of slavery, a time where Africans were forced to work in some really awful conditions, leaving behind their homes, their heritage, their families and much more. Eventually, we moved to freedom, but not without some people who fought, persevered and pushed forward first.
Throughout history, men and women of color have triumphed. We’ve got Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas-the first African American Olympic gymnast to win the individual all-around event. We have KeKe Palmer, Beyoncé, President Barack Obama- our nation’s first African American President. We’ve got Audra Mc Donald, Misty Copeland-the first Black principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre- and Lupita Nyongo who became the first Kenyan and first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award. Know there is more. All of these African Americans began their journey with a dream. They didn’t think about being the first of their race when they fostered or thought up this dream. They began with a passion and as they fought racism and other arduous or difficult situations, they realized that they had a responsibility. They were dancers, actresses, presidents, activists, ordinary people who did extraordinary things but happened to be Black and in this, their journey looked pretty different than some of their peers of non-color. While this fact may feel uncomfortable, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel a little uncomfortable but we must not base our actions off of fear, discomfort or the like, yet of the sheer hope that one day we can affect positive change.
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
CIS students and their Site Coordinator at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School helped to promote Black History Month by participating in a school-wide door-decorating contest. Through pictures and quotes, they highlighted various Black history heroes (and “sheros”) such as Nelson Mandela and Marsai Martin. The door sparked multiple conversations regarding each hero students knew or where just then learning about. Let us keep learning, growing, and understanding that we do not lose the inspiration of our forbearers. Happy Black History Month (continued).