As midnight struck on Feb. 1, countless students at VSU tweeted and posted on Facebook: “Happy Black History Month!!!” promising and encouraging others to celebrate this month that is supposed to belong to us. NAACP hosted a Black History Week that was meant to celebrate Black History and Black Leadership, so why were these events attended by less than the whole 24 percent of the African American student body?
We see so many people saying that Black History is so wonderful, but what do we actually do as students? And why do we wait until February to praise our race/ethnicity? We are so in awe of our history that we haven’t stepped up ourselves to become those leaders who we worship so much.
“We don’t fully understand the connotations of the celebration, yet out of a commitment to rote tradition, we do it every year,” LaTrina M. Johnson said when she wrote her letter to The Spectator, and she is right.
Black History Month at VSU often goes unrecognized or just ignored, but we always hear students complain about the lack of African Americans holding higher positions in organizations, teaching, and even graduating at VSU. We attend fashion shows and go to the clubs to have a place on the social hierarchy, but don’t create influential groups or study for that class that we have a C in. Some of VSU’s priorities seem to be very unbalanced and nothing will change until we do.
As a part of Generation Y, we have to step up and take the lessons and experiences that we have learned from our parents, guardians, and institutions. We have got to be more aware of what is happening in the world today and what can we do as its future leaders.
There are many opinions about Black History Month—from questioning why African Americans have one, to why we are not letting go of our past. What we can do today is to educate ourselves inside and outside of the classroom.
Black History Month derives from Negro History Week. In 1925, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, proposed the idea of Negro History Week as a way to encourage people about black history. He selected the week in February that includes both the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist Fredrick Douglass. In 1976, Black History Month was expanded to Black History Month or National African American History Month. There are other ethnicities/races such as Irish Americans, Persian Americans, and West Indian Americans who have one day to celebrate their culture and history and they take advantage of it. We have a month and all we can do is complain about how short it is?
Let’s take this opportunity we have as college students to do better. All races and ethnicities here on the VSU campus—step out of your comfort zones and create this “diverse” campus that we claim to have. Black History Month isn’t just for African Americans to praise for its face value, but to contribute to its history.