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Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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February people, is it relevant?

As Black History Month quickly approaches, I ponder its relevance in today’s America.

In 1926, black Americans were still suffering from the lingering and damaging effects of slavery.

The Emancipation Proclamation and reconstruction efforts did very little to combat the inequality, injustice, blatant prejudice and systematic discrimination blacks continued to face under the southern state’s Jim Crow America, which lasted well into the 20th century.

Fearing that blacks would suffer the same fate as the American Indian, historian Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week to promote teaching the history of black Americans in public schools.

He decided in the second week of February that the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass would be recognized—both being celebrated in many black communities decades prior to the establishment of Negro History Week.

In February of 1969, black students at Kent State University proposed an expansion of the event to a full month, and the first celebration of Black History Month was held at Kent State the following year.

During America’s bicentennial celebration, the United States government made the expansion to Black History Month official.

Let’s fast forward 39 years to January 2015.

The United States has twice elected, who many perceive to be, America’s first black president (a biological impossibility given the fact that President Obama’s mother was white—but I digress) and for whom many voted for under the guise of making history.

I believe the noble efforts of Carter G. Woodson to educate America on the historical contributions of some of its most neglected and mistreated citizens were absolutely necessary—especially decades prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

In the present day, I fail to see the relevance of setting aside a single month to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of certain black Americans, when history is made all year round.

Some older generations, who are apt to cling to tradition, may disagree about believing that Black History Month is essential in educating the next generation of black youths, or at least those without Internet access.

Unfortunately for Black History Month, history does repeat itself.

Once the month of February arrives, it is a cultural ambush of sorts that includes, but is not limited to, nonstop commercials, television programming and special events that highlight or showcase black achievements.

It’s as though black people only exist during the month of February.

Of course, I exaggerate to a certain extent.

I agree with Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman that black history is American history and should not be confined to a month.

However, I would take it further than that.

Black history is human history.

Personally, I do not consider myself African American, a minority citizen of this country, a perpetual victim of white privilege, or least of all, a person of color.

Are there persons without color?

I am an American, who has been labeled black for the sake of political correctness that fuels America’s obsession to brand, sort and categorize.

We, as human beings, possess the same capacity for greatness like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa.

Unfortunately, we also have the same capacity for evil like Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (just kidding about the latter… sort of).

After all, history is human beings just being human.

Ben Woolridge may be reached at [email protected].

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February people, is it relevant?