"As An Adult, I Am Not a Fan of Black History Month" Terron Sims II, Truman Security Fellow
On 900 Rhode Island Ave, in our nation’s capital, lies Carter G Woodson Memorial Park where there stands a majestic statue of the man who is notably known as the father of Black History. Every time I walk past Brother Woodson’s statue, I pause and reflect. Every time I drive by it, I give a glance of recognition. Every time though, I always ponder as to whether those who have begun calling the Shaw neighborhood home over the past twenty years have any recollection as to who Brother Woodson is, let alone have stopped for a brief moment to read the plaque…
Carter G Woodson began what was originally known as Negro History Week (1926) during a period in our nation’s history when, not only was it demonized by our white ruling society for one to be proud to be Black, but the attainment of knowledge of the great historic feats and attributes of Black people and African society was shunned and nearly non-existent. Understand that during post-Reconstruction, American society felt it had to crush the will and spirit of Black people in order to maintain the status quo and our nation’s economic engine. Black people having pride in themselves, having dreams of prosperity and greatness, was an assault on the American way of life.
As a child, I loved Black History Month because that was the period when PBS showed all of the Black History related documentaries and the cable and tv networks played Black-related historically based films. Nothing Black history related was really taught in the classroom in February, but that never really concerned me because I had been doing my own reading and research since the third grade, and being that all of my history teachers, said one, were white, I never expected them to teach me anything I either did not know or could not discover on my own through the reading of books or speaking with the old people in my family and church.
As an adult, I am not a fan of Black History Month - not because I believe it should not exist, but for the same reasons why I loved it as a child. There has been no growth in knowledge, acceptance, or embrace of anything Black in this country since I was a child. How Black History Month was in 1986 is how it is in 2022. How Black people are disrespected and disregarded in 1986 is how it is in 2022. The recognition of the contributions and attributes of Black people in 1986 is as it is today in 2022.
W.E.B. Du Bois said, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” Dr Du Bois, the first Black person to earn a PhD from Harvard and one of the cofounders of the NAACP, was a stalwart civil rights activist who, in 1959, decided that he had had enough of the United States and left the country, finally making his home in Ghana in 1963. Up until ten or so years ago, I always wondered why Dr Du Bois went into exile, but, as I became more and more involved politically, from the local to national level, I came to understand why. Dr D Bois had grown weary of the struggle. Imagine fighting your entire adult life for a righteous cause, only to look up in your latter years and realize that the boulder you thought you were pushing up the mountain, you were merely holding in place.
So, what does Black History Month mean to me? It means that the struggle continues. It means that the fight for the Constitutional rights of all continues. It means that I and those I love must continue uplifting each other - that we must never waver. The struggle will never stop until We the People stands for all…God bless The United States of America.