UNO STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT/REGENT
This Black History Month I am committed to reclaiming my peace of mind, and the joy of being a Black man despite the overt and covert opposition that I may face in life. The true beauty of being Black in America is the realization of the legacy that we are graced to uphold. The significance of where we are today is reinforced by the knowledge of the struggle that it took to get us here. Of course, there is still much to be done, but I will never undermine the struggle and the pain and suffering that those before us endured over the years.
The truth is, although African Americans have come a long way in the history of America, oppression still exists because it is engraved in the foundation of American culture. The racial ideology that justified slavery, is drilled into the core of the American system, and the effects of this still permeates the governmental and psychological systems that exist today. However, history has taught us of our ability to rise and prevail in the face of opposition. The ability of my ancestors to rise and defy all odds is motivation for me to stay the course. This is why learning our history and understanding the impact of Black people is the most important thing we can do.
Black History Month began as “Negro History week” in 1926 when an African American historian and scholar, Carter G. Woodson recognized that young African Americans in the early 20th century were not being taught enough of their own heritage, and the achievements of their ancestors. About half a century later, Negro History Week turned into Black History Month, and President Gerald Ford began the tradition of honoring the month by saying the celebration enabled people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Of course, this should be a year-round thing and the norm within the classroom to highlight African American achievement throughout American history, but unfortunately this has yet to be the case. A lot of the accomplishments made by Black Americans remain neglected and unspoken to this day, but I believe Black History Month is a reminder to all, that African American history is American history. Personally, I use this month as the opportunity to reflect on everything that Black people have contributed to this country. One thing’s for sure, the African American experience in America has shaped the significance and pride behind what it means to be Black. It is a symbol of power, resilience, endurance, and faith. Not only have Black people been able to rise and progress in the midst of oppression, but we have influenced everything around us in the process.
Upon gaining our freedom in a country which had enslaved us for so many years, we coined our own national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It was created as a cry for liberation and affirmation for African American people. The lyrics, written by James Weldon Johnson, represent the power and joy that make up the black experience. “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.” These words display the joyous triumph and the humble reflection of the journey that makes us who we are.
“Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chastening rod
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died
Yet with a steady beat
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?”
“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast”
I am inspired by the power and the strength of Black people to face the world with the unwavering faith and determination to not allow circumstances to dictate who we are. This Black History Month I am reminded of how far we’ve come, and I’m resting in knowing that because of them, we can.