The United States celebrates Black History Month through the month of February to recognize and remember the important contributions and achievements that African Americans and peoples of African descent have had throughout the course of history. This month-long celebration is met with different events throughout cities, states and different organizations that seek to educate the nation about the rich culture of African-Americans.
Despite all of the positive changes that have occurred throughout the course of history, Black History Month is celebrated as a means for Americans to honor the past of a people who were forced into this country through political bondage, and further allows those of African descent to come together in memory of their often forgotten past, a past that has been hidden and overshadowed for Americans of all races.
“We do not know enough about our own history and are not taught our own history from K-12,” said Stacy Davidson, director for academic support and co-advisor for Trinity’s Black Student Union. “I think it is important to learn more about people so we can better understand about their life experiences,” Davidson said.
Black Student Union serves to create a social network for students of any race interested in the culture and to educate the Trinity community about the historical and currently relevant issues in the black community.
This month is a time to highlight people who have done significant things and made significant progress for African Americans throughout history. It allows the younger generations to ask their elders about their experiences growing up in a time when they were seen as second-class citizens and were not afforded the same rights as other racial groups. It is a month of heartfelt dialogue between those who have lived through this time and those who have not, and it is a time to provide an understanding on the true atrocities of slavery in America, one that is not taught in detail in primary and secondary schools.
Trinity students were asked why they thought it was important to continue to celebrate Black History Month every year.
“For black kids who don’t really have role models in their communities, Black History Month is a symbol of hope for these kids to look back on the people that have made advancements in their community,” said Decroy Edwards, first year.
In a culture where media influences how children learn to see themselves and their role in society, representations of their race often depict them in negative ways. This is why it is essential to have a time to discuss and encourage black children that they are more than capable of doing and being everything that they wish to be, despite not being shown representations of that in the media.
Black History Month is also a time where corrections are made to the misrepresentations and misunderstandings of African-American culture in the United States. It is a time were open conversations are encouraged and a chance to learn more about people’s experiences among different cultures. Being open to these experiences, being welcoming of people’s voices and learning to be respectful of their voices in a manner that does not invalidate their experiences in any way is celebrated during this month.
With all of the work, events and activities that college entails, students often do not have the time to listen to other people’s experiences or to do so in a way where they are truly appreciating the voices of others; this is why it is critical to have classes that encourage students to learn about each other’s experiences, opening up people’s points of views to something other than they have experienced themselves. Trinity University in particular requires students to fulfill diversity credits through the Pathways Curriculum by taking classes that challenge and open students to thoughts and experiences other than their own. Many of these classes focus on African-American culture and history. Students are given the opportunity to understand, appreciate and respect other people’s experiences.
Ultimately, Black History Month is a time where people of all races can come together and embrace what is to come in the future, while acknowledging the struggles faced by people of African descent in the past. It is a month to expand people’s understanding of black history and allows for healthy discussions about the changes that society can bring forth to move forward despite a dark past.