Is It Necessary To Celebrate Black History Month?

“We don’t have a White history month, so why is there a Black history month?” Those exact words rolled off the tongue of my White co-worker, who was oblivious to the fact that he was embarking upon the biggest history lesson of his life. Although his comment was offensive and a bit hurtful, it wasn’t time to take it personal. It was imperative that he being a White male working with Black children in the ghettoes of the South side of Chicago, completely understand why it’s very necessary to celebrate Black History Month. Allow me to school you like I schooled him.


US Department of Transportation

Garret A. Morgan

We don’t have a White history month, because White history is consciously and subconsciously celebrated all year long. Think about it. Everyday, the media inundates us with European images that inform us of the “true” standard of beauty. When asking the younger generation who invented the stoplight, they stare cluelessly. They haven’t been educated about how a Black man by the name of Garret A. Morgan, invented the stoplight, which totally transformed streets all across the globe. However, every year they are reminded to celebrate Christopher Columbus for his “discovery” of America. The faces of accomplished individuals in the media fail to fully represent African Americans. Of course media highlights the success of certain African Americans, but typically not mainstream media. And although I absolutely LOVE Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the African American historic experience is so much more than one man.

It saddens me to hear the younger generation equate Black History with slavery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware slavery plays a HUGE role in our history, but it’s so much more that isn’t being told. What about our royal history? Why isn’t mass media sharing the historic stories of Black kings and queens in Africa? Or the great contributions of African Americans in this country? Have we forgotten about the Harlem Renaissance Movement that’s responsible for today’s classic African American literature? The first open heart surgery was performed by Daniel Hale Williams, a Black man. Our history is rich, inspiring, and extremely vital to our future. Therefore, it needs to be shared and celebrated.


National Park Service, Department of the Interior, US Government

Carter G. Woodson

Black History Month began as Negro History Week in 1926. Founded by Historian Carter G. Woodson, he wanted public schools to place a huge emphasis on Black history during the second week of February. Woodson chose that week, due to the fact that it marked the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976 the U.S. government officially recognized the expansion of Negro History Week, to Black History Month. A week wasn’t sufficient enough to properly fit in the history of Blacks. And to be honest, one month isn’t enough time as well, but it’s a good starting point. It’s a great opportunity to take the family to a museum, watch a few documentaries, and truly discuss Black history in depth. However, the spirit of Black History Month shouldn’t die on February 28th. It should live all year round. To answer my White co-workers question, Black History Month should be celebrated all year, until there is no longer a need to ensure us one month. Until the true history of Black Americans is properly told in public schools. Until countries all over the entire globe recognize the beautiful struggle of Black Americans and join our celebration. Until then, this is why we celebrate Black History Month.

Do you and your family celebrate Black History Month? What are your traditions?

A New Era in Beauty for Black Women

About five years ago, something extremely refreshing happened. Seemingly out of nowhere, Black women were trading in their relaxers, to embrace their natural hair. Pretty soon it was the topic of most conversations in the Black community. African American women discussed who was going natural, who decided to big chop, and who was transitioning. Blogs were created to cater to the natural hair community. Women began to share their hair journeys in chatrooms and via YouTube. Major hair brands caught wind of the underground natural hair movement, and began to manufacturer products catering to our diverse curls. It wasn’t long before I joined the natural hair community.


Natural Hair

For 3 years I twisted, braided, conditioned, oiled, loved, and hated my natural hair. For the first time in my life I felt beautiful. No more hiding under perms and weaves. I gave the world all of me, naturally. The response was beautiful, and although it was a struggle at times, I was so proud of my decision to accept and nourish the hair I was born with.

I recently permed my hair. At first I was reticent about my decision, seemingly oblivious to the “Did you perm your hair” questions on my social networks. I secretly felt like a sell-out, but I knew the decision was made simply because I yearned for a sleeker style that natural hair wouldn’t allow me to achieve. It wasn’t until a friend of mine who has natural hair told me “Having natural hair isn’t a cult. Be you.” That’s when it dawned on me.

It wasn’t just a natural hair movement taking place. No. Something bigger was occurring. A new era in beauty for Black women had arrived. Tired of waiting for the world to recognize our beauty, we began to embrace ALL of us. This movement goes beyond hair. Whether you’re a Black woman who chooses to wear your natural hair, or a long Pocahontas weave, this movement is about being confident, truly loving yourself, and truly loving each other. Don’t take my words. Just look around.

Procter & Gamble’s “My Black is Beautiful” campaign is committed to celebrating & connecting with African American women. Beverly Bonds created “Black Girls Rocks” as a way to empower young African American women through the arts. Since then it has become a movement, and even an anthem for Black women everywhere, casually using the hashtag #BlackGirlsRock on social media networks as affirmation of our flyness. Black women from all walks of life with different skin tones, and a variety of hair textures, are celebrating themselves, and allowing the world to catch up if it chooses to do so. It’s so evident that it’s a new day.

Our hair, skin, eyes, noses, lips, hips, and legs, are just a glimpse into the beauty that lies within. This new era of beauty among Black women celebrates the mind. It celebrates our beautiful spirits, our beautiful struggles, and our beautiful hopes. It consists of Black women uplifting one another, loving one another, and appreciating each other’s beauty. It’s here, and it isn’t going anywhere.

Why All Black People Should Visit Africa

I was 23 years old when I took my first trip to Africa, and if you ask me my trip occurred a little too late. It should have happened as soon as I developed comprehension and understanding. It should have happened before the “African booty scratcher” jokes became funny to me, and before Africa became the dark continent in my mind. However, thank goodness it happened. After visiting the beautiful country of Zambia on two different occasions, I’m convinced that every Black person should visit Africa at least once. It will change your entire life. It most definitely changed mine.

I heard about a mission trip that was heading to Zambia. I signed up to be interviewed for the trip, but completely chickened out. Why? I was scared. What was I doing actually considering going to Africa? On one hand I really wanted to go, however on the other hand I was completely terrified. There were civil wars happening in Africa. Women were getting raped in Africa. Lions were freely walking around in Africa. I’m disgusted at how much the media had influenced my thoughts about Africa. On top of it all, I’m from the South side of Chicago, which has the number 1 murder rate, period. If something detrimental was going to happen to me, it was more than likely to occur in Chicago, not in Africa. Nevertheless, leaders of the trip pursued me, and encouraged me to partake in an experience that would give me a new perspective on life. I agreed.

Nikki Thompson

The location was N’Dola, Zambia. We had a layover at the Johannesburg Airport in South Africa. The first thing I did when stepping off the plane, was touch the ground. This was extremely important to me. I was officially in the Motherland. The place where it all began for my people. The small layover in South Africa taught us an unexpected lesson. All of the workers were Black! How was this possible? It dawned on us: we were no longer the minority. No. In Africa there were Black doctors, Black entrepreneurs, etc. Black people working together was the norm. At that moment I let go of any fear I had, and my preconceived ideas of Africa. I didn’t know what Africa had in store for me, but I was completely open for whatever.

Nikki Thompson

I heard children speak about how AIDS ruined their family, but still saw bright smiles on their faces. I saw families walk 9 miles just to attend a Sunday worship service. I stayed with a family who opened up their home to us, giving what they had. I learned that the houses in Africa look just like the ones in America. Go figure. I purposedly used the bathroom in the ground, when the opportunity was presented. Hey, I was on a mission to experience it ALL. I ate N’shima. I spoke in Bemba. I attended a wedding. Unfortunately, I attended a funeral. A Zambian funeral of a little boy who passed away from a disease that is curable here in the States. I saw Africans weep. I wept and felt their pain. I was 23 years old learning lessons in Africa, that I NEVER learned in America.

Africa gives you a sense of pride. Although I struggled internally with where I stood as a descendant of Africa, the people of Zambia were very accepting. After witnessing the strength of the men on the farms, the women carrying babies on their backs while carrying water on their heads, and the pure joy of orphans, it’s safe to say we come from a legacy of powerful people with unbreakable spirits. Media fails to show you the beautiful waterfalls, monstrous mountains, and green pastures. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the angelic voices of an African community singing together on one accord. And last but not least, you have yet to discover another side of you, until you’ve spent time in the home of your ancestors. Africa is calling. What are you waiting for?

Why We Need Another Civil Rights Movement

Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong generation. As a child I would often watch old clips of the Civil Rights Movement and desperately wish I could have participated. The focus and eloquence of Dr. King inspired me. The courage of the children challenged me, and the unity of Black people was something I’d yet to witness in my generation. My soul longed for the days when Black people didn’t sit around and hope for change, but actually fought for it to happen. I was sad I missed the opportunity to be apart of something worthy. I yearned to be apart of another movement. As I got older it dawned on me, that if we ever needed another Civil Rights Movement, we need it now.


Emmett Till

The Civil Rights Movement began in 1955 and was birthed out of the death and murder of Emmett Till. Although Till’s death sparked the movement, it was years of racism, injustice, and hate against Blacks in America that came to a head. Enough was enough. Blacks were citizens of America, and wanted equal treatment like everyone else. It was time for schools to be desegregated. The “Whites Only” signs that plagued the South had run its course. It was time for diverse shopping centers, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. I’m sure my Black brothers and sisters were especially motivated by the direct racism they endured during that time. Although we’re not experiencing that type of racism today, the state of Black America needs immediate attention.

Today we are experiencing what I like to call “institutionalized racism”. For example: Back in the day John didn’t have a chance of getting the job he applied for, because he was Black, and the White employers would gladly tell John that truth. However, in today’s times John can send in his resume, go to the interview, have employers smile at him during the entire interview process, but will never get the job due to him being a Black man. What’s worse is the fact that John will never know why he wasn’t hired, or he quite naturally will eventually understand it’s due to racism. Both are detrimental.

Michelle Alexander, author of New Jim Crow Laws writes “People are swept into the criminal justice system-particularly in poor communities of color-at very early ages… typically for fairly minor, non-violent crimes.” The institutionalized racism that’s plaguing Black America can definitely be found in the prison system, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s EVERYWHERE. Public schools fail to properly educate our children, which in return has negatively affected our communities. The lack of resources in our community has resulted in violence and drug use. As I watch the slow demise of our community, I wonder if anyone else recognizes our dire need for another Civil Rights Movement. I wonder if we’ll stop waiting on another Dr. King to surface. King couldn’t do it alone. It took everyday people joining together to form a powerful source that couldn’t be broken. It’s going to take the exact same unity today.

What are we waiting for?