Black History Month: Then and Now

There are an entire 28 days dedicated to honoring and remembering some of the most prominent black leaders, right? But what exactly is being celebrated and how are blacks being honored? Present day life conflicts with our historical past.

I remember my teachers always making special preparations for Black History Month every year in elementary school.

The classroom decorations would be a clash between hearts for Valentine’s Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes plastered everywhere.

Year after year it would be the same lesson on Black History: Black people were slaves, Harriet Tubman freed a lot of slaves, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and that’s it. An entire community summed up in three events. This limited education always left me wanting more. You have 28 days and that’s the best that can be done?

I realize now though, as an adult, that the limited education I received was based on the history of the time. It wasn’t until I enrolled in an African American studies course that I realized how much I didn’t know and the depth of my historical deprivation.

Nowadays Black History has progressively reversed. Just when you thought how much the world has changed for the better by having an ethnic man run a country, you turn around and another young man has died over nothing. Instead of MLK posters, we now have “In loving memory” t-shirts. Making hashtags outshines learning about Nat Turner, Fred Hampton, Fannie Lou Hamer and Assata Shakur.

We honor the black community by exploiting them on shows like Love and Hip Hop and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

A child today can’t tell you a thing about any black activists but can give you a full blow by blow of what happened on the latest episode of any “reality” TV show. Don’t get me wrong; I’m guilty of indulging in the mindless entertainment put on BET, Bravo and Vh1, but I dare not omit true history from my life. The channels or programs that show better images are less popular.

So how do we change this? What can we as college students do to restore the historical value of Black History? Visit the Apex Museum on Auburn Avenue or the new Center for Civil and Human Rights that’s on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard. Also we have an entire department and major dedicated to the education of African Americans; it’s the African American Studies Department. Basically, educate yourself.

Also, there are groups and organizations like the NAACP collegiate and Atlanta chapter and NCNW. They promote the awareness and education of black people. Those are just two of the many organizations dedicated to uplifting the black community. Also, there are opportunities to attend peace rallies and forums to address the issues.

This Black History of today is relevant only through different media outlets. Even with so many leaders, organizations and lives to celebrate, the mass majority chooses otherwise. The once beautiful pride in Black

History month has been diminished. Restoring Black History Month and bringing back its true meaning may be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort.

Now go the Apex Museum or the Civil Rights Museum and learn something. Happy Black History Month!