What Black History Month Means to Me
“We must never forget that Black history is American history. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” — U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York
For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection: an opportunity to embrace my culture and display my pride for the trials, the joy, the pain, the courage and the sacrifice of those who paved the way before me.
Growing up, we learned about the same Black historical figures year after year, and it was somewhat mundane. However, as an adult, I am able to dig deeper and learn all that I can about those who have left their indelible imprint that affects everyone in one way or another.
As an MTN employee, I was afforded the opportunity to shine a spotlight on an individual who contributed to medical advances. I decided to feature Dr. Jane Cooke Wright, who I never knew was such a pioneer in the advancement of chemotherapy. Learning about her expertise and innovations, which have an impact on so many, further solidified for me the continued importance of studying Black history — no, American history. Everyone could better understand the incredible contributions people of color have made to the collective American experience.
The only reason I can stand tall and accomplish my endeavors is because I stand on the backs of those who came before me. I was inspired to find out that my paternal grandfather was a humanitarian and local activist throughout the 1970s. He sought to bring about positive social change in Kansas City, Missouri, which laid a foundation that still benefits people today. That is what Black History Month affords us — the ability to gain knowledge that would otherwise not be known. That is why it should be consistently taught versus distributed in a highlight reel for twenty-eight days.
Being a Black woman is not only a joy and an honor, but it is who I am every single day. I cannot change it and, honestly, I do not have an ounce of desire to do so. There is immense pressure accompanied by underlying distress, violence and vile treatment that is bestowed upon Black people. It is terrifying; however, I wake up every morning grateful for who I am. That is quite literally Black history personified.