Every year we choose this special time to celebrate the stories…the legendary accounts of men and women who make Black History a reality. The barrier-breaking strides and momentous occasions are indelible marks that will forever be engrained in our country’s history. But, as we raise the notable names, let us not forget the list of countless others who made a difference. The unsung heroes who by acts big and small, and often courageous, have made the world a better place to live for us all. Every marked step is a cumulative reflection of all the contributions that came before it.
Many of the voices that spoke out for freedom, justice and equality may not have been loud enough to be broadcast in a public medium, but they are worthy all the same. Not all of our storytellers are authors or documented historians. But, their recounted tales are just as valuable. We are represented by generations of culinary masters who pour their hearts and souls into sharing the flavors of our culture with those they love. Some may be world renowned chefs, but for those who aren’t, their food and the comfort it brings is just as appreciated. Not every little girl who creates a fantasy world of dress up in her mom’s closet will get a chance to work the runway like Tyra. But, her awkwardly high-heeled steps could be the foundation for another industry breakthrough, and her own pathway to success.
So, take the challenge in celebrating Black History. Peel back the layers of pages in the history books to uncover the lesser known stories. Look beyond the history books to talk to our life teachers who hold the stories passed down for generations. Be prepared to consider the journey, not just the point of arrival.
So when you think about Ben Carson, also think about Daniel Hale Williams, and the men and women in the medical community who work to save lives every day. They too are Black History. When you think about philosopher and professor Cornel West, think about the teachers who inspired him along the way, and the ones who plant seeds in the minds of our children so they can live out their dreams of becoming the great philosophers of tomorrow. They too are Black History. Honor Halle Berry for being the first African American woman to win an Academy Award in a lead role. But also honor those who work behind the scenes to support bringing the creative process to life. They too are Black History.
When you look at life through the lens of Gordon Parks, be thankful that he shared his viewpoint with us, but how thankful we are also for the foot soldiers that captured images during the civil rights movement, creating a visual catalog that is an important part of our story. They too are Black History. Celebrate Barack Obama for being the first African American president of these United States. But also celebrate the community organizers and attorneys who support righteous causes and work tirelessly on behalf of others who need fair representation. They too are Black History.
I’m working my way into the history books. What about you? What will be the title of your chapter? If you don’t know it, figure it out today. After all, you too are Black History.