As Black History Month ends, it’s fitting that a black journalist is asked to reflect on its significance as I’m used to being assigned the occasional “black stories” back East until I got seniority and had another reporter cover the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast event, earning her the name “La’Qwanda.”
That was the extent of a diverse office for me when she embraced that name and also grew tired of “those” events.
Now, for disclosure, in no way is this meant to reflect the thoughts and views of this news media or offend the contrary masses; but, there’s a lot to be proud of when you reflect on the many accomplishments of African Americans who contributed greatly to history.
Unfortunately, whether intentional or not, it is only during the shortest month that some of their inventions and feats are revealed to the surprise of many. Often unpublicized documentaries, shown during midnight hours, do not do justice to the many other notable individuals, who not only made their mark in history but brought about change, besides Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Malcolm X.
Earlier this month, when my colleague and I did an online Black History Month trivia, we got a “Whoops, you need to brush up on your black history knowledge,” message. How embarrassing since it was my idea; but, my excuse is that black history wasn’t taught in the Baltimore County Public School curriculum.
Other than the perfunctory lesson on the Underground Railroad and Dr. King’s speech touting, “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls,” the majority of us are ignorant about black history as it relates to history.
From the era of slavery to the Civil Rights movement, black history can be somewhat dismal when reflecting on a plight of people who, through no fault of their own but due to the darker hues of their skin were beaten, sold, made to work without pay, separated from families; and as history progressed, commonly jailed, segregated, discriminated against from housing to education; employed for subservient jobs only.
And, were essentially denied a fair quality of life, including equality and justice, which isn’t much to ask, and is a simple request with larger proportions for many.
Perhaps, making black history mandatory, and not missing from education, is something worth pursuing as a society for those unaware of the history that can inspire and motivate future generations who can have an all-inclusive selection of role models past and present of all races worthy of emulating if their parents aren’t the best of examples, so they too can make a difference in the world. It doesn’t have to be something awe-inspiring but something worthwhile.
I’m grateful to be a veteran “newshound” in a field that I’ve had good and bad experiences. When I go on hiatus, I often return because it may be my purpose and mark in history to bring about changes whether it’s exposing corruption in schools or featuring exceptional people making a positive difference. Notice that I mentioned positive since people can make negative differences too.
When you think about it, we are all making history daily so what kind of history do you want to make for yourself in this ever-changing, multicultural world?
When I realized that many times when African Americans made the front page of papers, it was for something negative, I went to work for the Black Press to cover black people in a balanced view. That was an education for me because until then, I had limited contact with those of my race since I attended predominantly white schools, lived in what was considered white neighborhoods and worked in the print profession where there were and still are very few black writers during my career.
But, working for the black media was short-lived, but I keep hope, though, that we all make positive history and that I can be an inspiration to others.
Editorial News Services Assistant Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.