What Can We Learn from Black History Today?
African American history is fraught with pain and suffering. It was only until 1864 that slavery was abolished. However, this momentous accomplishment in history was not the end of racial discrimination. Discrimination continued to exist in the form of a lack of voting rights, Jim Crow laws, and segregation.
Legalized discrimination may not exist today but discrimination is still prevalent. The relationship between Black people and the police is an example of that. That said, there are a lot of positives to take away from Black History. African American people’s achievements over the years give us inspiration and a sense of pride in our identities. Here’s what we can learn from Black History today.
Black History is Filled with Inspirational Sacrifice
Over the years, countless Black people made incredible sacrifices to help us reach where we are today.
Civil War (1861 to 1865)
The Civil War in the United States began in 1861 and ended in 1865. The war was between the south and the north of the US. The south wanted to keep the rights to slaving African Ameri- cans. Their goal was to form the Confederate States of America after seceding from the government. They failed, and the 13th Amendment was created. This Amendment abolished slavery in 1864.
God has the ability to change things for the better. He took something as horrible as slavery and made it an avenue through which African American heroes could rise. While it’s important to condemn the actions of the evil men who promoted and perpetuated slavery, we must understand that the brilliance of abolitionist heroes was a reaction to them.
Civil Rights Movement (1950s to 1960s)
The creation of the 13th Amendment was an important moment in Black history. It was a stepping stone in a long battle for the legal rights of the African American population. Almost a century later the Civil Rights Movement began in order to end racial segregation, institutionalized and legalized discrimination, and disenfranchisement. Revolutionaries like Martin Luther King Jr. were instrumental in giving the African American population the rights they have today.
Legalized racial discrimination ended with the Civil Rights Movement, but the struggle for African American people didn’t end there. Black people still face discrimination in various parts of their lives. This is owed to the subtle institutionalized racial discrimination prevalent in the US.
Black History Month is Important for Understanding Identity
Black History Month each year commemorates the struggles and sacrifices Black people have made over the years. This is expressed through artist performances like poetry recitals, musical performances, and discussions.
President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. He believed it was necessary for Americans to be aware of Black people’s contributions to the country. Every February we rejoice and honor the men and women who struggled to make artistic, cultural and political achievements for the country.
It is Important to Exercise Our Right to Vote
Generally, there is a theme for each Black History Month. The celebrations for that month revolve around that theme. The theme for Black History Month in 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote”.
2020 is a significant year for people’s voting rights in the United States. African American men were given the right to vote back in 1870. Therefore, 2020 marks a 150-year anniversary for that right. In addition to that, the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the 19th century climaxed with women’s right to vote in 1920, which will be 100 years ago in the new year.
Therefore, to celebrate both of these anniversaries, most of the celebrations and discussions during this month will revolve around voting rights. Also, a prominent sub-theme will be the accomplishments of African American women. It will be the perfect opportunity to appreciate their undying efforts to make this world a better place. For so long the contributions of Black women to this country and to the world are erased or downplayed.
All Black Heroes Aren’t Men
One African American hero is Harriet Tubman. She was a Black abolitionist, who managed to escape her slavers in 1949. She said later that “liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other”. She was an abolitionist before and during the civil war. During the war, she worked with the Union Army by providing routes through which slaves could escape. She also guided the Combahee River Raid. This raid was responsible for freeing 700 slaves from captivity.
Tubman constantly quoted God as her guiding and driving force. She would often exclaim praise to Jesus and sing spirituals as a guiding method. Her faith in God guided her through her routes, and she sang hymns of praise to communicate with others around her.
God helped Tubman to counteract the evils of slavers by making her a force for change. He- roes like her are responsible for providing people of color the rights that they have now.
Harriet Tubman is an excellent example of an African American woman bringing change into this world. It is important that we recognize how instrumental Black women were in making the world what it is today.
It’s Important to Be Aware of Our Roots
Film director, Kasi Lemmons, took this appreciation to another level by creating the film “Harriet”. This film is about Harriet Tubman‘s life and her role as an abolitionist in 19th century America. Cynthia Erivo’s performance as Tubman was praised by multiple critics.
This movie is a great way to bring awareness to the role women have played in history. Histories of marginalized communities aren’t given as much importance as they should be. Because of that a lot of people from that community or otherwise aren’t aware of the great things their ancestors did. Movies like Harriet help in changing that.
Also, this movie gives people of color great representation in mainstream art forms. This way more audience members can relate to the characters they see on screen – which can be an empowering experience. You can find the trailer of the film here.
Last Few Words
History is one of our most important teachers. Therefore, we must expand our knowledge of our history so that we may grow into exceptional people.