“There shouldn’t be a black history month”. Those were the shocking words of actress Stacy Dash during a recent interview. As a Nigerian who grew up in the U.S, I couldn’t disagree more. Black history month is a vital month that allows us to highlight the outstanding achievements of black Americans, pay tribute to the exceptional men and women who paved the way for our current liberties, and celebrate our black heritage.
Growing up in the American school system, I was taught American history which conveniently neglected black Americans. Aside from the “honorable” mention of blacks during slavery, American history did not include the contributions of black Americans who helped shape the America we all know today. If it were not for Black History month, the achievements of black leaders, writes, artists, and inventors would be overlooked. We may not have known of the gifted literary writer Langston Hughes, the great educator Booker T Washington, the brave humanitarian, Harriet Tubman, the brilliant orator and statesman Frederick Douglass, the self-made millionaire entrepreneur Madam C.J Walker, the first traffic light inventor, Garrett Morgan, and many others.
Paying tribute to these great black figures is an important aspect of black history month as well. We must never forget or take for granted the incredible role these leaders played so we may enjoy the opportunities currently available to us today. These opportunities include the freedom to vote, attend any college, purchase a home, run for political office, open a business, and ultimately partake in the American dream. Granted, there are still improvements to be made, but we can acknowledge the progress already achieved.
Celebrating our heritage while reconnecting to our African roots is another key part of Black History month. We should take the time to learn more about our roots and culture so we have a better sense of identity. One of the ways we can celebrate is by expressing ourselves through clothing. The D’IYANU clothing line was born out of the desire to create modern African inspired fashion that could be worn daily for those seeking to express themselves in a unique way.
In spite of Stacy Dash’s ignorant comment, Black History month should NOT be canceled- clearly! We will continue celebrating and acknowledging our amazing leaders that paved the way for us. To these men and women and many more whose name may never get public applause, we say thank you!
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