HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.
The History Channel provides the following information on its website regarding Black History Month (http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month):
“The story of Black History Month began in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.”
As a nation, African American Heritage Month should be a time used to reflect on the trials and tribulations that we’ve gone through together and use those experiences to bridge the gaps that still exist. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he stated the following:
“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
Those words were spoken Aug. 28, 1963, and they still ring true today, but we still have further to go to make this a reality.
As we listen to the national news, read the latest Twitter feed, or scan the innumerable amount of Facebook posts for the latest and greatest information to consume, one cannot deny that there are parts of our country where we are still divided based on race, color or creed. Based on the aforementioned quote, we should use African American Heritage Month as a time to reflect on the words Martin Luther King Jr. spoke back in 1963. We should use this time to appreciate, understand and welcome our neighbors. We should use it as a time to uplift and spread positivity instead of negative rhetoric and hate. And we as a nation should use this time to unite and walk hand-in-hand with each other against ideals that don’t represent those of our nation, but instead elevate us to higher levels of human decency and understanding.