Black History Month is a time of celebration, but mostly for remembrance of important moments in time. So, I asked a few of our writers to explain which moment in Black History they would want to go back and witness. Here is what they told us:
Chuck Berry Concert
Being the music fanatic that I am, if I could go back in time and witness an important moment of black history, it would have to be music related. After all, most of popular music nowadays has been influenced by black artists. During the 1940s and 1950s, African Americans were developing a new music genre: rock and roll. In contrary to popular belief, Elvis Presley didn’t invent rock and roll music; he was simply one of the white artists at that time that became commercially successful by singing rock and roll.
An African American artist who played an important role in the development of that specific music genre is Chuck Berry. He was a musician very popular throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s and it is believed that his song writing style can be recognized in the music of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. Therefore, if I could go back in time, it would be to attend one or two Chuck Berry concerts, wearing the prettiest 1950s dress of course!
Ain’t I A Women?
I could mention several moments in history that I would like to go back and personally witness. The founding of the NAACP, the funeral of Emmett Till, or the period of the Harlem Renaissance are all moments I think are important to black history. However, I think one moment that had a huge effect on me would be Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech.
In 1851, she delivered a speech at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio about the lack of equality between the sexes and the need for women’s rights. The speech was published years later and altered somewhat but still has the same message. She argued that women should be equal to men and uses her own experience as a black woman to defend her claim.
The later and probably most popular version of the speech repeats the phrase “ain’t I a woman?” and I thought that was so powerful. Sojourner was speaking from a place of intersectionality and I think that’s what hit me. The fight for women’s rights was largely for white women and Sojourner’s speech not only points this out but seeks to assert her own female identity as a black woman.
The speech was important to me because it highlighted the specific experience of black women in history. For a black woman, the struggle to have a voice and demand better rights and representation is related not only to gender but also race and it’s important to keep those two things together.
– Kaysey Davis
Fashion and Beauty Team
As a kid visiting the homes of different family members there were always similar paintings hung up on the wall. These paintings seemed to exude life and illustrate people dancing with vibrant colours surrounding them. As a child I’d stare and wonder what music the subjects listened to as they danced and what it’d be like to be transported into one of these paintings. Over and over I saw paintings like these and it wasn’t until I was older that I learnt that these images were painted during the time of the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance was a period in time from 1918 to about 1940 marked by the reinvention of the African American identity in the United Stated. It signified the beginning of racial pride and a move for Black Americans to re-invent their identities apart from the forced identity of slave. I think it would have been amazing to witness this movement, to experience the birth of Jazz, the out pouring of literature, the beginnings of black people in America expressing themselves creatively in many forms such music, art and literature. This movement was so important because it showed the ability of a people to thrive amidst racism and vast discrimination, it illustrates the resilience of African Americans in this time period to challenge the status quo and create a better life for them in a land that was built off their labour. I would love to witness the feeling of pride and the flow their of creativity amidst such turmoil.
– Deborah S
Brown v. Board of Education Case
If I could go back in time and witness one important event in black history it would be the final decision of the “Brown v. Board of Education” United States Supreme Court Case in 1954. This final decision made segregation in school systems illegal and was one of the triggers of the civil rights movement. This is crucial to me because I see education as one of the main influences in my life, it is the catalyst to the many opportunities I’ve had and to the ones that I hope for. Imagining a world where a student is taught that one race is lesser than the other from kindergarten, before they can even conceptualize race, is baffling. The education system is supposed to a place of questioning, and the flourishing of ideas and knowledge, a place of integration and acceptance.
Segregation contradicted this institution’s very core. This decision meant the beginning of equal opportunities for blacks everywhere to be successful and recognized for the talents and perspective that we bring to the table. This is an important moment in history because I know that without it, I might not be at uOttawa sitting comfortably in between my Caucasian, Arab and Asian friends, I would be relegated to an overcrowded, underfunded school because someone didn’t believe that I was worth it because of something as superficial as my skin.
– Bumni A
Fashion and Beauty Team
I Have a Dream Speech
There is no doubt that if I could travel in time to witness an important event that it would be the speech of I Have a Dream given by the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. I would transport myself on the step of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C on Augut 28, 1963.
This public speech which was delivered in front of many people who supported the civil rights cause. The purpose of the speech was to incite the end of racism and to ask for equal rights for black people. The fun fact about this historic speech is that the famous part of the speech “I Have a Dream” was improvised. This was an very special moment in Black History and I would love to have witnessed this historical part of our history.
– Gloria C-P
Editor of the French Team