Reflections on Black History Month

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Fola Odebunmi

A U.S Congressman, John Lewis, was 23 years old when he participated in the historic
1923 Civil Right “March on Washington” led by Dr. Martin Luther King JR. Half a century
later , journalist Bill Moyers asked Lewis how he was affected by Dr. King’s ‘I Have A
Dream’ speech that day. Mr. Lewis replied, “You couldn’t leave after hearing him speak
And go back to business as usual. You had to do something; you had to act. You had to
Go and spread the good news.”
Black History Month is about spreading ‘the good news’ of knowledge, awareness,
Telling the whole and complete stories of African Americans here in the U.S.A. We
Know we are from the Continent of Africa, but that is just about where the story ends.
At least as told by the mainstream history books. As a people we lost our identity, we do
not have information about our specific country of origin.
So, we are writing a new book through Black History Month. A book about
African Americans who inspired innovation, creativity, and invention. The book about
African Americans who initiated, contributed, and encouraged Cultural Awareness
and Change. Black History Month provides the needed inspiration from those
who came before us and left such an impact on American Society. It is therefore, about
spreading the god news of the documented inventions, professions, commercial and
educational contributions of African Americans whose names were otherwise left out
of history books and educational videos. In the new book, we incorporate the good
deeds and hard work of such African Americans via Events, Activities, Lecture series
cultural exhibitions and church services in the Black History Month. It is up to us to
uncover these ‘hidden figures’ and celebrate their accomplishments. All of these give
the present generation and future generation of African American their identity, sense
of inclusiveness and the determination to contribute meaningfully to life in America.
We do this against all odds and overwhelming obstacles for the sake of change and
posterity.

EXCERPTS from Maya Angelou’s Poem: STILL I RISE.
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt,
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­
You can shoot me with your words; you can cut me with your eyes;
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like air, I’ll rise.
-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­
Out of the huts of History’s shame; I rise.
Up from the past that’s rooted in pain – I rise.”