By the time February comes around, the new year is in full swing and hearts begin to throttle at the inkling that a Valentine may be received. However, an air of seriousness is often mixed with these sweet and invigorating feelings. In other words, February is Black History Month, a time in which people all over the world relive the struggle and achievements of African Americans, past and present.
“It’s a time for students to reflect on the communities in which they live and to find a voice in their communities,” said Ms. Pezzola, social studies teacher. “That’s for everyone, not just African Americans.”
On January 18, U. City hosted the 28th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration. The event began on Jackson Park Elementary School’s front lawn as members of the community paraded to U. City’s auditorium. Featured during the program were many performances from district students.
Since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is recognized as the face of the civil rights movement, much emphasis is often put on his life and legacy. As a result, King gets his own national holiday and many Americans enjoy a day off from typical daily duties. However, many are quick to note that he didn’t do it alone.
“Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Medgar Evans, Mamie Till,” reflected Mr. Horn, teacher of African American Experience, on notable black leaders other than Dr. King. “There are so many.”
For a lot of people, Black History Month is a period of time to learn about the little-known contributors to the momentous time in American history.
“We should be educated because we really don’t know about our history,” said senior Te’Aira Hudson when considering why Black History Month is an important part of her education.
Among the little-known, Hudson expressed concern over those she describes as misunderstood. She still wished to discover and gain understanding of activists who are often neglected for their controversial views. She named Malcom X, Al Sharpton, and Spike Lee as very popular and yet slightly defamed figures.
“Well, to a degree they brought a lot of it on themselves by really pushing the envelope,” said Pezzolla. “They tended to present truths in very dramatic, controversial ways that people found offensive.”
Pezzolla dwelled on Reverend Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama’s former pastor who delivered disputable sermons to his congregation.
“Part of it is that people do take things out of context for political reasons,” Pezzolla said.
No matter how liked or disliked the level of notability of certain figures may be during Black History Month, many agree that the month’s primary purpose is to celebrate our freedom and to unite America as one.
In the end, Horn ultimately comes to one resolve.
“Black history is American history,” he said.