Bythe efforts of a man named Carter G. Woodson Black History Week was born in 1926. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it fully expanded into a month of celebration and recognition. The significance of the month of February stems from the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, why do I care? Better yet, I should have seen this article coming. But let me enter your thoughts for just a few more minutes. Since coming to Harding from Orlando, I can truthfully say that I’ve experienced a lot of things. My siblings and I grew up in the suburbs and became accustomed to going to schools where we were the minority. Therefore, coming here wasn’t a huge step outside of my comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve never felt uncomfortable.
You can probably imagine that being a part of a minority group has led me to experience racism sometimes (and I don’t necessarily mean on campus). I’m not writing this article for you to pity me or anyone else who has experienced the same injustice, but instead for you to gain some insight. When I look at people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Doug Williams, Rosa Parks, Desmond Tutu and Lorraine Hansberry, I see many different things. Aside from the color of their skin, I see people who decided not to accept the standards or criteria given to them by society and those around them. These brave, remarkable human beings challenged presuppositions and perceptions of what blacks were, and still are, capable of accomplishing.
I know that because of people like them, I am able to have the same equal opportunities as every other student here. Because of them, I, as a black student, don’t have to be held to any arbitrary standards. These standards include those which tell me how I should behave, converse, or even dress. I strongly believe that Black History Month is, at its core, the pure definition of change and exactly what it looks like. I appreciate the fact that Black History Month has been a frequent topic in chapel this month because it deserves to be recognized, and not for the benefit of one group of people but for everyone. It encompasses so much more than the trials and hardships of one race. It is a reminder to all that patient actions speak louder than hateful words and that “it always seems impossible until it’s done,” as spoken by the late Nelson Mandela. Black history should indeed be considered American history.
If you wish to take anything from all that I have to say it should be this: I am proud to be black, but black is simply not all that I am. Just like any other student here, I shouldn’t have to be subject to people’s standards based on the tint of my skin. Like John Mayer, I’m still waiting on the world to change, and I am thankful for the trailblazers in the past that made it possible for me and others to enjoy the rights we have today. I hope that this month isn’t just something that we allow to pass by without it changing us and our mentality about loving others who come from different backgrounds. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that one day no one would be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and that one day black children and white children would be able to join hands together as sisters and brothers. We are the reality of his dream.
Have we completely perfected his dream as a university, as a body of Christ or as a society? No. However, I have faith in the fact that each day brings a new opportunity to love people more courageously than the day before.