“But that was so long ago; do we really need to talk about it?” questioned my oldest child. I was taken back by the tears that welled up as I attempted to respond graciously. In the middle of a discussion on MLK Day, I realized my children didn’t know how to connect to the history we were uncovering. They couldn’t comprehend its direct effect on their current and future lives.
My four kids are half black, half white, and baffled by the fact that their skin tones could cause a raging debate in the southern part of our nation. Thus, they were blissfully clueless about the importance of this part of history. To them, “historical” automatically puts something into a category of happening so long ago that no one from that time period is still alive today, nor does anyone remember the events. What they failed to realize is that just because something is historical, that doesn’t make it irrelevant today.
After hiding in underground railroads and risking their lives to be free, the legal freedom of slaves was still just the beginning of the saga for blacks in our country. Blacks were no longer “bound,” but true freedom didn’t come overnight. People like Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights activists were still fighting to see equal rights and justice for people of every color all the way up to 1964 when segregation finally became illegal in all parts of the U.S. (Not to imply that the trials ended there either). Heroes and supporters marched down streets, spoke out against injustice, and rallied together when it would have been much easier to give up. My children can now choose to visit whichever park they like, drink water from any fountain, and swim with people of every nationality because certain people chose to persevere toward the fulfillment of a dream.
Something that needs to be emphasized, though, is that Black History isn’t simply about people fighting for more freedoms or rights. They also gave and continue to give the world the best of themselves in so many genres. Through Gospel music, Motown, contributions in science, athletic achievements, diverse art forms, business plans, and more, we see that the black community hasn’t just survived. Despite their battles, they’ve been changing and enhancing our culture throughout history. Imagine how different our world would be if Black History was limited to a recap of slavery. Thankfully, they dreamt beyond the end of pain.
The best way we can celebrate and honor Black History is by teaching the next generation how to be like those who persevered. We must teach what’s possible now and in the future by reminding them of what’s been accomplished already. Let’s teach our kids what it looks like to have the courage to fulfill a dream, the endurance to see things through to the end, and the strength to face all adversities in the process. We keep talking about black history, especially with our kids, because we still have so much to learn from a remarkable group of people.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
Featured Image by Kassi Russell