Don’t underestimate importance of Black History Month


Savon Gray is a contributing columnist for the Kentucky Kernel.

Savon Gray

The month of February is dedicated to a side of history that most people know little about. During this month, public schools tend to focus on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of the amazing things he managed to do; along with all of the roadblocks he faced during his life, which was taken too soon.

Students will generally receive lessons on slavery: the journey to America, the punishments and lives that the enslaved Africans were subject to once they arrived, and their eventual emancipation.

During the month, Abraham Lincoln will receive more credit than he deserves, Dr. King will be shown as an example as to how all black people should carry themselves, and that is usually about all. The month will end 2-3 days earlier than the rest, and schools will go back to teaching students about how Columbus discovered America.

Sophomore journalism and political science major Kaitlin Coward remembers what she learned during Black History Month.

“I went to schools in Texas and California, and I remember learning mostly about Martin Luther King and that his role was key in the civil rights movement,” Coward said. “Most knowledge I received about black history was from my grandmother.”

Senior ISC major Samuel Cardine has a similar remembrance.

“Thinking back to the earliest I can remember, the only African Americans I remember seeing in my history books from grade school throughout high school were Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks. It is great that these notable people were mentioned in my text books but the information about them was held to a bare minimum,” Cardine said.

UK has an extensive calendar for Black History Month, beginning with the “What’s Cooking?” event on Feb. 1, and ending with a town hall discussion on racial climate put on by the UK Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, along with the Social Justice Advocacy Group.

Not everyone agrees that Black History Month is important, however, like African American actress Stacey Dash. On the Jan. 20 edition of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Dash said, “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration, or if we don’t want segregation, then we have to get rid of television channels like BET and the BET Awards where you’re only awarded if you’re black … There shouldn’t be a Black History Month. We’re Americans, period.”

In a time and place where the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is being used to show how actors and actresses of color aren’t being represented at the award ceremony, we are aware that inclusion works both ways.

In the entertainment world, the BET Awards were created as a space to honor African American performers who don’t receive the same, or rather, don’t receive any recognition for their work.

In society, Black History Month serves as a voice for those who are forgotten in the past, and whose work doesn’t receive proper recognition throughout the rest of the year. It serves as a beacon of light, illuminating great African Americans from the past who have shaped our present conditions.

“If there was no Black History Month people would not be as educated on the notable African Americans who have helped shape our nation. Black History Month is a time to learn and a time to remember because apparently black history is irrelevant to most people. If we did not have Black History Month, many achievements of the African Americans greats would be blindsided,” Cardine said.

And many people will agree.

Savon Gray is a journalism sophomore.

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