Reflecting on the Importance of Black History Month

As Black History Month comes to a close, it’s important to remember why we spent this past month celebrating at all. But more importantly, we should remind ourselves why black history is something that should be considered and celebrated every day of every month. 

Black History Month is a month dedicated to recognizing the struggles, traumas, and sacrifices endured by African Americans, today and historically. However, we also take this month to acknowledge the successes and achievements earned by African Americans worldwide. In this 28-day period, we are to celebrate those who have pushed for social and political change to better the lives of our black Americans.

We also must grieve the lives lost due to discrimination present in many institutions, such as medicine, law, or even our police. Today, black women are 243 percent more likely to die due to pregnancy or childbirth causes. African Americans are 3.73 more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, though whites and African Americans use marijuana equally. Travyon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, still walks free with the blood of an innocent black youth on his hands. As YG’s song states, the police do, in fact, get away with murder. In 2020, we still face these issues, and the list of traumas endured by black communities does not seem to grow smaller.

On a less grand scale, we still see societal segregation. Though it is now technically illegal, and only has been for 56 years, we still see situational segregation in many places. In places like Furman, a prestigious liberal arts university in the South, we see a constant divide between our white students and our students of color. The campus is filled with an aura of us versus them, wherein white students roll their eyes at the plights of our Student Diversity Council. Their support is limited to sharing posts on their Instagram stories and attending feminist marches, yet all of these actions are filled with empty promises to our marginalized peers.

Although we have come a long way, we have a much further way to continue. Black History Month forces us to acknowledge, ponder, accept, and reconcile with the dark history created for African Americans. We also celebrate our black leaders, students, professionals, and human beings. But most importantly, we dedicate a few weeks to give African Americans the credit that they deserve. In spite of horrifying circumstances and daily fears faced by them, they persist. Historically, African Americans have paved the way for so many social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, the Civil Rights Era, and even movements that aren’t predominantly for black people. Events like Stonewall, an uprising led by black drag queens, paved the way for LGBTQ+ Americans. It is fundamental to recognzie and celebrate the existence and persistence of our black members of society, and to all work together to continue progress. Black History Month may only be a single month, but movements and progress are continuing every day.