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Can We Get Personal With Black History Month?

PART 1: Black History Month brings many meanings to many individuals. We celebrate African American heritage, we reflect on past injustices, we recognize current relationships and we dream of future progress. As February is recognized as Black History Month, communications students at MBU were asked to blog about this question: What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

Graphic illustration by Anika Conley — Original copyright-free photo provided by Wikimedia

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By ANIKA CONLEY

What does Black History mean to me personally? The representation of the oppressed people of our country who fought and are still fighting for the same rights as other United States citizens today.

This month personally does not get enough credit because my people were enslaved for hundreds of years, built this country and yet only receives a month worth of gratitude.

On the other hand, we as the minority need to come together and make this month worthy of its title by exploring and introducing the amazing African Americans of this time and the past.

For example, in St. Louis everyone knows about the Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day parades. They express their cultures and festivities by welcoming other cultures to indulge and celebrate with them.

My question to you is why doesn’t Black History Month or even Martin Luther King Jr. Day have something more exciting and elevating as the other festivities.


By STEVE O’NEAL

It was Yvette Clarke who declared, “We must never forget that Black History is American History.”

Growing up I can remember Black History Month as always being the same every year, never much of an event at all.

It seemed that the teachers would go down their imaginary checklist, mentioning Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, the Emancipation Proclamation, but not much else.

As I think back on it now and look out on a world where it seems we can’t go more than a few days without hearing news of racial tensions, I find it difficult to believe that we are doing enough.

I believe that we are once again at a critical point in our history, that simply idealizing and honoring the dead without looking at the present and addressing the future of what they strived for is nothing more than passive compliance.

In my mind Black History Month should be Rodney King. Black History Month should be Mike Brown. Black History Month should be the Black Lives Matter movement.

Until we seek a greater change in our society, only looking back with fondness is nothing more than an insult to what our future could be.


By TYLER ANDRUS

Black History Month should be emphasized more than it has been in the past. It is a very important time to respect a minority that has had a major impact on our country.

For the most part I do not think about it until I see the commercial on television reminding me and in that moment I feel some remorse.

This is a month dedicated to the equality of races and probably, even more than that, the equality of every human. So how could I forget to celebrate something so essential?

I grew up in Illinois in the suburbs of a predominantly white area, so it is needless to say that I have never run into issues regarding racism or discrimination.

Being sheltered from this type of discrimination is the reason that I forget about Black History Month and I wish there was something I could do to change that.

Black History Month is sort of an afterthought (although it should not be) because I am a white male from the suburbs, but I am in full favor of Black History Month and everything for which it stands.

I would imagine it is similar for those out there who had a similar upbringing and something should be done to bring even more awareness to this time so that everyone can partake.

There are minorities who have struggled in this country for hundreds of years because of bigotry, but recently there have been strides for equality of both race and gender. Black History Month is a great way to celebrate these strides and to remember the constant fight for equality.


By SARAH BROYLES

Black History Month has never been very evident in my life.

Sure I am aware of it, and even take that time to learn more about black history, but I have never personally reflected on its meaning  to me.

I attended a school that did not reflect very much besides the occasional biography during the month of February.

I find myself ignorant too, remembering only growing up at the same schools, and playing sports, and sitting in classes waiting for the day to be over.

I have competed with, against and coached many people with backgrounds different from me, providing me with a look into someone else’s opinion.

Some of my best friends have completely different views on their lives in St. Louis, but that has not created a divide between us, but an understanding that I, in fact, do not know everything, and I can learn from others.

In this area, I am not wise, knowing there is so much that I don’t understand because I grew up never being taught there was turmoil now, forgetting that it hasn’t always been like this.

Even now, as a college student, I have not begun to learn everything there is to know or understand.

Sometimes I think I would like to remain ignorant and live in a space that seems free of that history, knowing that in reality that is not true.

Honestly, I still don’t know what Black History Month means to me, but I am beginning to figure that out.

Graphic illustration by Kati Attaway — Original copyright-free photo provided by Wikimedia

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