From the Civil Rights Movement, to historical activists like Martin Luther King Jr, Black History Month is a time for all of us to recognise the efforts that were made to pave a way for the black community.
However, black history isn’t just the tale of oppression and slavery, rather its a month of celebration for the achievements and contributions made by the black community to this day.
When it all began
Cited as the ‘father of black history’, Sir Carter G Woodson made it his mission to preserve the history of African – Americans. He had noted that black history was ‘buried’ under American soil and African – American contributions were ‘ overlooked and ignored’.
It is through these observations that he established ‘Negro History Month’. 1926 marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time for us to celebrate, commemorate and learn about history was and still is pushed aside, from pre – colonisation and beyond.
The successes that are not spoken about
From working in a printing division in Kingston, Jamaica; to founding one of the most influential anti – colonial organisations, UNIA – ACL ( Universal Negro – Improvement Association And African Communities League), Marcus Garvey was a key figure in establishing a brotherhood within the black race and assisting civilisation within African tribes.
Throughout his later years, he was campaigning for an end to European colonial rule across Africa, whilst also advocating for unity within the continent and Jamaica.
Promoting financial independence from a white – dominated society, Garvey launched various businesses in the USA, like the ‘Black Star Line’, a shipping and passenger line, in order to pave a way for black goods to be transported in and out of Africa and to facilitate migration to Africa.
Civil rights leader, a founder of the NAACP ( National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) and an educator – Ida B Wells is viewed as the most famous black woman in America of her time. Born into slavery, Wells grew up suffering from oppression and enslavement from those above her.
Having said this, during the American Civil War, she was freed through the Emancipation Proclamation and since then she was very vocal about the oppression that black people were facing in America. From Lynching to violence that African – Americans experienced, Well published her experiences in her book ‘Southern Horrors’ which outlined the harsh treatment inflicted upon slaves.
Wells was historically known for her prominence within black female activism whilst also fighting against segregation within the American education system and also in the workplace.
Those paving a way for the community today
We know him for his musical talent, but not enough light is shone upon his work to promote black excellence within the UK. The Stormzy Cambridge Scholarship began in 2018, with the aim to increase the presence of black students within the top universities in the country.
Following the success of the scholarship last year, it was re introduced year, with the goal being to continue to not only increase the number of black students within universities like Cambridge, but to also show other black students that it is possible to aim high and to continue to working to being the best in everything that they do.
Currently holding the 2019 World Champion title at 200 metres and the title of being the fastest British woman in history, Dina Asher – Smith continues to be a light to the black community through her hard work to reaching the top within the sports industry.
From participating in massive events like the Commonwealth Games and The Olympics and collecting many medals along the way, she is yet another example of a young black woman breaking boundaries despite the obstacles that may be in front of her.
To round up
Whilst Black History Month is a time to reflect on past history that has moulded the community into what it is today, it’s also a month to observe the successes coming out of the community and to celebrate contributions made by black people into current society.
It’s time to take control of the narrative of what Black History Month is, it’s not just the slave story that’s echoed every year, it’s also the pre – colonial history and the current history being made today.
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