Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”
It could be said that the more painful the history, the more vital the knowledge of it so there can be no chance of ignorant repetition. The national history of the United States is undoubtedly painful. With this in mind, education is paramount.
We frequently use #NeverForget to deepen our roots with the knowledge of painful history, as in the case of the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 and with good reason. We need to extend that same urgency of remembrance to the slave trade, the institution of slavery and the Jim Crow era. We must never forget. We must learn from our historical mistakes. These remembrances should be at the forefront of our collective consciousness as we seek to reconcile the sins of the past with the dreams of the future.
For the dreams of the future to reach actualization, we need to teach our children about the strength, the courage, and the struggle of the people that made up the abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. We have much to learn from their stories and their individual and collective examples.
- Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger
- Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson
- Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
- Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
- With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, Hadley, Virginia, 1954 by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R Smith Jr
- Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
- Heart and Soul: The Story Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
- March: Book One, Two, and Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
- Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
But there is much more to Black History Month. All too often we never get past the stories from slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement. These understandably get the bulk of our historical attention, but it leaves us with an incomplete view. That complete view includes generations of seldom mentioned inventions, contributions, and discoveries made by African Americans. We must reclaim these histories and remember their names. Here is an excellent list to help us bring their names to the forefront of United States’ history.
We must never forget what was. We must reclaim what was left out. And we must remember that representation matters, not only historically, but also in our everyday life.