Black History Knowledge is Meant to Evolve.

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( Would you be surprised if you learned that Black History week, which would eventually become Black History Month, was meant in part to be a time whereby the community could share what it’s learned. Meaning we were supposed to be gathering knowledge throughout the year, and then we could all come together and have this beautiful exchange of information. What happened to this aspect of our month? Black History Month was never meant to be a regurgitation of repeated information like we only have a handful of notable leaders, and contributions to society. This is an important situation to ponder over in wake of the current climate whereby the history of the American Black is being challenged directly in academic spaces at every level. The redundancy in history can lead our young people to question the relevance of Black History Month, as it may lead them to feel they know everything that needs to be known. They may not understand the importance, and value, of taking in all of the history…that includes the enslaved part.  History is more than just merely the past…its always evolving with each passing moment.

Black History Knowledge is Meant to Evolve.

Every year at this time, if you hop online, you see recurring posts about the “giants” in the Black community. Granted there is always more we can learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglass, and many others…but there are also names we have no idea existed. There are names on whose shoulders these leaders that stood to be who we know of today. Furthermore, there are several different nuances regarding the conditions of Black people in this country that are more of a continuing story than history. Because we are unaware, truly, of the origins of our people in this country we can’t see the continuance…hence direct connections to a past we feel is gone.

Too many of us see Black history as reliving a trauma that we’re reading, and because we’re being told to cut ourselves off from this past…we’re unaware that it is still directly affecting the present. This drive to disconnect robs us of knowing other figures in our history from whom we can gather encouragement and wisdom. We are then cut off from ideas that may have started back then…but would be perfect for a continuance now. We are lost to inspiration in an unfortunate battle to “not” become our ancestors. It is unfortunate indeed…as we tend to not understand that in saying such we’re cut off from the legacy of tenacity, ingenuity, survival, striving, and thriving.

It is time to use Black History Month as it was intended. We have all year to learn more about our past, and current. This would require us to use our resources and time on matters that would serve us personally and as a people. This would mean less time for the destructive conversations and behavior. This would move us more into a state of community building as we learn more about self via our history. It would open us up to numerous ways to meet the needs of our people, as we are not a monolith. Changing how we view the need to learn our history could be revolutionary. Of course, there are those that would tell us it’s time to move past history, while demanding that the history of others be forever learned by each generation.

A true understanding of the strength and brilliance of our people from 1619 to the current in this land could be life altering in a positive way, especially for our youth. Our children are fighting for a reason to move forward feeling that they are not seen nor heard. The truth is, ours is a voice that doesn’t gather its power from moving alone…we are a communal people and there is strength in the collective. This is not what the “powers that be” would have us believe as the divisiveness is at an all time high. The perspective towards history is powerful, and it is something we need to address while we can.

Ttake the time to gather history from elders, research, and casual reading. Come together with those in your family and village throughout the year to talk about the Black experience and how it is relevant to you now. Seek to find the historical figures that can empower you right now. We will always acknowledge the great leaders we know are we are forever learning from them. However, we need the voices that have been buried to help us move our people forward. Black History Month needs to be a time of great exchange. When we are in community physically and virtually pouring knowledge of our people into each other. A time when we are grateful to the ancestors for the sacrifices, they have made…while learning of new innovations they have left for us to find. Gathering their wisdom in this great exchange not only helps us grow as individuals, but we can also gain fresh ideas on how to strengthen our people as a collective. There is nothing stale about history as it is being made in every moment that passes. Black History Month needs to be a recharge as we prepare for another year of learning and growth.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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