Black History Month – A Project

It’s February. Black History Month is upon us again. *rolls eyes* Huey Freeman (of Boondocks fame) summed it up best when he said:

Every Black History Month it’s the same thing – the Underground railroad and George Washington Carver. Like nothing else ever happened to black people!

The next frame of the strip then shows the teacher bringing up MLK and Rosa Parks as Huey shakes his head in disgust.

I’m with McGruder on this one. True, it’s good to learn about African American history from the roots of slavery to the triumph of Civil Rights. But the focus is all too often narrow, the topics clichéd, and the point missed entirely. Plus, I haven’t seen too much emphasis on black folks since Civil Rights except to update us on those in the movement who are still alive.

Back in high school there was a Black History Month essay contest sponsored by the Postal Service to promote a new stamp. G W Carver’s, I believe. My teachers encouraged me to send something in because I was a well-known good writer (it was an urban public high school – I was easy to spot). Already disillusioned with BHM, I decided to write an anti-essay. Instead of waxing poetic about MLK or Harriet Tubman or even Richard Wright, I wrote about my personal black history. I told how my Uncle Buddy kept our family history alive for us as one of the family’s favorite storytellers. If you wanted to know how someone was related to someone else (plus a few off-color anecdotes about them), you asked Buddy. If you needed entertainment at a family gathering, you ‘got Buddy started’. I concluded that the black history that really mattered to me was my family history.

I won the contest.

That was over ten years ago and I haven’t thought about it in a long time. But something sparked the memory this morning. (It was probably that awesome BHM bit on the Daily Show last night.) And I thought that instead of posting the same old and tedious BHM posts or even the anti-BHM posts, let’s make Black History Month useful again. What black folk do we hardly ever talk about yet deserve to be remembered if not celebrated? What recent history is worth exploring? And what is your personal black history? I would love to hear stories about people’s families. Either stuff you remember or stuff you were told. How did your people contribute to history? How were they affected by it?

So seriously, this is the Black History I want to explore this month. Post this on your blog, pass it around, email your grannies and cousins for material. Recommend some books, dig up some history, have fun!

Then come back here and tell me about it. Oh, and tag your posts “Our Black History Month”

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