Black History Month by Megan Saenz

Black History Month by Megan Saenz

With March approaching at the end of this week, that also means that the month of February, Black History Month, is coming to an end.  During this month we acknowledge the hardships faced by the African Americans who helped build this country.  We remember all of the discrimination and dehumanization they faced, and we try to educate others on social justice issues.  History has a huge impact on how we live our lives today.  No matter how far we look back into history, there is always a lesson for the present.  We cannot stop fighting for a better world; there is always work to be done.  Along with the United States, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom also celebrate Black History Month.  In case you didn’t know, here are some African American firsts:

First…

  • Landowners: Anthony and Mary Johnson (1640)
  • Graduate of an Ivy League School: Theodore Sedgewick Wright (1828)
  • Woman to graduate from a college: Lucy Stanton (1850)
  • Black Labor Union: American League of Colored Laborers (1850)
  • Male Novelist: William Wells Brown (1853)
  • Woman Novelist: Harriet Wilson (1859)
  • Recognized photographer: James Conway Farley (1885)
  • Woman Dental Surgeon: Ida Gray Nelson Rollins (1890)
  • Heart Surgery Pioneer: Daniel Hale Williams (1893)
  • Congressional Medal of Honor winner: Sgt. William H. Carney (1900)
  • Explorer, North Pole: Matthew Henson (1909)
  • Licensed Pilot: Bessie Coleman (1921)
  • Radio broadcaster: Jack L. Cooper (1925)
  • Woman Legislator: Crystal Bird Fauset (1938)
  • Astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. (1967)
  • Woman television show host: Oprah Winfrey (1986)
  • Woman Astronaut: Mae Jemison (1992)
  • Woman Secretary of State: Condoleezza Rice (2005)
  • S. President: Barack Obama (2009)
  • Woman U.S. Attorney General: Loretta E Lynch (2015)

A few students also reflected on a question I asked, “What does Black History Month mean to you?”

“Well, I’m glad it’s a thing!  Give some of my people some recognition you know? For what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve done for society.  Also, it gives a sense of perspective to see how they were living and how it was so different then.  To see what they did to change it is just an inspiration.”

  • Raegan Carpenter, 18, Business Management Major, from West Covina, California

“Personally, black history month reminds me of the struggle to gain equality.  It also reminds me of great men and women who sacrificed everything they had for me to enjoy the freedom that I have right now.  Black history month to me in general means selfless sacrifice.”

  • Obinna Emmanual Uzoekwe, 22, Nursing major, from Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria

“What Black History Month means to me is a special type of appreciation for the ones that sacrificed so much for not only African American’s freedom and rights, but also for the equality of all colored people and minorities.  There is so much that we get to learn about the great black inventors, pilots, war veterans, doctors, and more that they don’t put in the history books throughout grade school.  I’m proud to be black, despite the odds I face every day due to the color of my skin.  I appreciate Black History Month!  We should have more minority appreciation months, for example, a Latin American Month would be cool.  There’s so much to learn about each culture.  I mean, why not?”

  • D’Angelo Bowie, 25, Sociology major, from Virginia Beach, Virginia