Black History month made it’s debut in the late summer of 1915 in Chicago Illinois. It’s founder, Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington DC to Chicago to attend a gathering celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the emancipation. Woodson is also the second African American to earn a Doctorate Degree from Harvard University; the fist was of course W.E.B Du Bois. Woodson illustrated steadfast desire to learn more about African American History because he believed such education was a formidable vessel to attain freedom; not necessarily freedom from bondage per se, but free to think independently. Free to be self-reliance and free to not be conditioned or brained washed to think one is inferior of any other race. Originally the recognition of black history was only a week. Then several years thereafter, it was expanded to a month as it is today. Black History Month is designed to commemorate the struggles and achievements of black people. Most, if not all, black people today stand on the broad shoulders of the one’s who came before us; blood, sweat and tears were shed. There were no such thing as being equal to the counter or being able to get an education to better oneself. Certain jobs were prohibited for blacks, certain neighborhoods were off limits to blacks, work conditions and wages were unsafe and grossly unfair. Hideous murders and lynch mobs were just a few scare tactics in order to keep the black man or woman in their place. Let’s fast-forward approximately 30-40 years after the inception of Black History Month; which brings us to the Civil Rights Movement. These were the times when blacks were no longer afraid to stand up for what they believed in. Blacks boycotted the transit system for fairness of just being able to sit where ever they pleased; moreover, sanitation workers stood up for better working conditions, and an effort was initiated to integrate schools. On a more dismal note, some were willing to lay their lives on the line in the name of freedom. So after centuries and decades of struggle, why are some of our young people behaving so recklessly? Arguably, things have gotten a lot better than they used to be, but really; have they? There is no need for lynch mobs and unjust prosecution. The black on black crime phenomenon is accomplishing exactly what the aforementioned was designed to do…if not better. School attendance of black students is disappointing; furthermore, the school systems in predominantly black neighborhoods are failing our children. I can go on and on with the disparities that blacks are accustomed to experiencing still today. Are some of our ills due to our own negligence and ignorance? Absolutely! However, I am willing to bet the “system” was designed to do exactly what we are witnessing today. Mind sickening antics like the William Lynch Letter and the Crabs in a Barrel theory are both alive and well in the year of our Lord 2014. The William Lynch letter was released in 1712 for crying out loud!!! If you never read the actual letter, do yourself a huge favor and read it. It is amazing how this man came up with this demented, evil-spirited, yet clever quasi handbook of instructions on how to create and sustain separatism amongst our own–over 300 years ago!!!
With all that said and done, do our youth have any idea what occurred just mere years before their birth? Do they understand the acts of Harriet Tubman, Annie L. Burton, Joseph Cinque, Frederick Douglas, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and many many others alike? They and others are the reason why they have the freedoms enjoyed today? Do they understand the price that was paid for such freedom? How do we hit the reset button? Can we or is there a way we can transform our youth’s way of thinking? When did it all start to shift for the worse? I think we need to concentrate more on mentoring and educating the young people and less time talking about how things “used” to be. Yes, it is important to understand where you come from, but it is more important to draft a road map on how to progress towards self responsibility, accountability and reliance.