A college history book reflecting the same information that is taught in Grade-high school.
Is one month enough time to educate students about the accomplishments of African Americans?
By Teonantra “Patrice” Manley
Is it February already? Well the time is here again to blow the dust off the history books and attribute those African Americans who white America feels should be recognized specifically during Black History Month. February has come around and with it, the nationally observed ‘Black History Month.
Black History Month honors the struggles, triumphs, and contributions to American society by its citizens of African descent.Started in 1926; its aim is to educate Americans on the history of the African dispersion.
The black struggles have been around for centuries and the contributions of African Americans are still in progress.
Why is there no White History Month, Hispanic History Month or Asian History Month? Because no other race was kidnapped from their homeland, shackled to ships, packed like sardines, beaten, starved, and sold like cattle to the highest paying bidder.
The first slave ships arrived in the U.S. in 1619. It was not until 1808 that Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa, almost 200 years following the year the first slaves arrived in Virginia.
In a lecture offered by Dean Leonard Bruton, at Palm Beach State College, Boca Raton Campus, students were privy to a brief insight of slave importation, the conditions on slave ships and more importantly the mistreatment of African Americans as they were imported to the “supposedly” land of the free.
The gestures from students during this lecture raised the question, why are students shocked to be hearing about these slavery details today and at this age? The sounds of “Oh my God, wow and that is sad” filled the room of adult college students.
According to Bio.Truestory a popular history website, the month-long acknowledgment of African American accomplishments began in 1926, theorized and brought to execution by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a black lecturer, scholar, historian and founder of the Journal of Negro History.
Black History Month began life as “Negro History Week”, launched in the second week of February. This week was chosen because it fell between the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two men whose contributions were invaluable to the individual identity of African Americans and realization as a nation.
Dr. Woodson as well as other black leaders saw the inevitability of documenting the mass of accomplishments and struggles by African Americans.
Complete with the narrative of our white brethren, save for biased references to the Negro in an inferior characterization, the history books were glaringly lacking of any essential, critical, logical documentation of the African-American experience.
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours, my religion, not yours; my goals, not own; get used to me.”
Muhammad Ali (1975)
The textbooks used in schools today, even after updating edition after edition still reflects African Americans as uneducated slaves.
According to Infoplease an education based website, there was no mention of Benjamin Banneker’s contributions to the design of our Nation’s capitol;
no mention of Louis Lattimer, an assistant to Thomas Edison, who held several patents relative to the electric light and co-authored a book on the principles of electricity;
no mention of Granville T. Woods who was known as the “Black Thomas Edison”, inventing multiple devices which improved electric railway cars as well as devices for controlling electricity;
no mention of Elijah McCoy, from whom the term “the real McCoy” was derived, a man with over 50 patents for inventions and processes used primarily in the engineering and lubrication industries;
no mention of Sarah Goode, the first African-American woman to receive a patent; no mention of Garrett Morgan, inventor of the three-color traffic light
or Charles Drew who is credited for developing techniques for preserving blood and plasma; no mention of hundreds of other patent-holding African Americans.
America (rightly) has an underlying guilt for its mistreatment of African-Americans in the past and jumps at every opportunity to show how open and accepting it has become. But what does Black History Month really serve to do?
Does it help others to understand the struggle of a race? No, it mainly deepens the divides by separating one ethnic group from another.
A new generation is coming into maturity where such hatreds as Jim Crow laws and segregation are a page in the history book.
The election of the first African American President Barack Obama is an indication to how far African Americans have come as a country. Our generation has the opportunity to take our history a step further and begin the post-racial era.
Black History Month undermines this progress by reminding everyone of their differences and highlighting our divisions.
If the main purpose of Black History Month is to acknowledge the contributions of African Americans to this “supposedly” land of the free. Do you really feel all that history equipped with inventions and all could fit in one small month? If a subject is going to be taught, it should very well be taught in its entirety.
“You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”
Frederick Douglas (1818-1895)