The Big Girl Chronicles: Black History Month 2014
In pausing to review the approach I took toward this time to collectively remember and celebrate Black History Month last year, I decided that for this year in addition to digging through black history books and meditating on quotations of noteworthy African Americans I don’t have to search much further than my grandmother’s house to get an account of black life in history. No matter who you are, the wisdom and experience of the elderly is a wealth of knowledge for anyone wanting to peer into history and learn of the struggles, ideas and accomplishments birthed from our race in this nation.
Among the most significant of memories that my grandmother has shared about her recollection of life in the past is the social unrest that was prevalent then. Many of the things that we now only get a glimpse of in movies were everyday, commonplace occurrences that couldn’t be “cured” or banished with a click of the remote. She has shared exactly where she was and what she was doing upon learning of assassinations of historical black leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. She has described the tension that resulted from those events and the effect that trickled down to life in this small town. The conversations that were had among her peers, the churches and others who were fearful and helpless of the plight of that struggle provide new insight into the bravery men and women of that time exhibited just to continue to get up and go to work each day. To be able to reach out and touch living history is an indescribable privilege.
It never fails. Each time I think about the course of events that have guaranteed my freedom today I’m in awe how others can not be committed to quality education. Can not be committed to exercising a right to vote. Can not be committed to those things that were fought for and paid with the precious lives of those that had a vision for our race of people to be more than secondhand servants and menial laborers, but rise to their potential to share the responsibility of moving the nation forward in quality healthcare, in justice, in technology and science and every aspect of productive life. It seems so much has been and is being taken for granted that I can’t help but wonder how our generation would fair if faced now with the same challenges that our ancestors overcame then. How “free” would we be today?
One thing is certain. Learning about the past creates a renewed appreciation for my now. In healthy communities there is ease of access to housing, businesses and institutions of learning for all citizens, regardless of color. In healthy societies we are free to love, share and communicate with our peers regardless of those things that kept us separated during the turbulence of the civil rights movement. There might be kinks that remain and surface from time to time. But with a healthy outlook and compare/contrast of then and now, should there be a downfall it might result more from our own self-defeating ideals and practices rather than from anyone else. This Black History Month be sure to include the wisdom and experiences of those matriarchs in your family among the celebration and remembrance of our historical figures.