Pride and Power within Black History

An entire culture is honored during the month, but it is not enough.

Nya Huff, Reporter

For the entirety of February, the United States recognizes African-American History and some of the achievements made by the Black community. Schools hold assemblies and teach students facts about historical Black Americans who have impacted the country. All of this is okay, however, year after year, the information presented to students stays the same. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each receive recognition every year, as they should, by schools and the nation, but far more stories deserve to be told. Shirley Chisolm, the first African-American woman in Congress and the first person or woman of color to seek a Presidential nomination, deserves for the world to hear her name. The Freedom Riders who fought alongside Dr. King warrant celebration beside him. 

Society and the American education system dilute the richness of Black History. Rather than seeing its power and greatness to the fullest extent, we receive a censored version of it. This version limits Black History to slavery and the Civil Rights movement, skipping the information that would paint the whole picture.

If I had to sum up Black History in one word, it wouldn’t be slavery or protests, it would be grit. Since being brought over to America after being taken away from their homeland, with tribes pitted against each other, and introduced to a place only to serve a master, Black people across the country have had to show grit. Our ancestors had to fight to be viewed as people, rather than property to be beaten and sold. They relentlessly protested to have the same rights promised to white men in the Declaration of Independence signed centuries prior. Voices of Black citizens were heard in courtrooms across the country, battling for the right to marry the ones they love in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, or the ability to receive the equal education we now have in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Izzy Tompkins, class of 2023, reads a poem during an Unapologetically Black Assembly.

The grit demonstrated by the African-American community has done far more than broken the chains placed on us by colonists. It has rebuilt what slave owners took from our ancestors and has given us a place in society that they could not have dreamed of. We still have grit to this day, while we continue to make history, and fight the discrimination and barriers put on us by society. 

I proudly say that I am a Black. Female. American. Meaning Black History is woven into me. It sits in my heart and soul, driving me to use my voice to stand up for my beliefs. Black history is an inspiration and has pushed me to break glass ceilings like those before me. I am grateful for its power, greatness and everything it has created, including me. 

It shaped my past and gave me my family. Without the historical Loving v. Virginia case, I would not exist because my Caucasian mother would have been unable to marry my African- American father. If I was born illegally, my existence would be considered a crime, like in South Africa up until June of 1985. Growing up a Black child in the predominantly white south side of Indianapolis, seeing African-American women like Gabby Douglas and Misty Copeland break records and make history showed me that people like me do have worth. 

It shapes my present and the opportunities that are presented to me everyday. Had Ruby Bridges not taken the initial steps to desegregate the American school system, Black students across the country would not be able to get a strong education like we do now at Cathedral. Black History inspired the Holy Cross value of Inclusiveness and Diversity that the Class of 2023 chose to highlight this academic year. I am proud of how far Cathedral has come with its inclusion of Black students and the diversity within the student body, but there is always more that can be done. In our school community, even the microaggressions and wrong doings must be corrected, so that African- American students will not shy away from their importance and their power.

It will shape my future as I break glass ceilings and make my name known. Black History has served as a platform for me to stand on and be grounded in. I am driven to carve my name into the rich history, so that I might inspire other Black children to make their name heard in their field of study. 

Mr. Ken Barlow, class of 1982 and current Vice President for Community Relations and Diversity, addressed the crowd wearing an Unapologetically Black t-shirt.

Because of the power and importance that history holds, Black History Month is not enough. It is not enough for the beatings and belittling our ancestors received. It is not enough because of all of the injustice we experience in society. In order for it to be enough, reparations must be made, and that includes our own education system. The social studies curriculum needs to take a deeper look into Black history because our history is American history, just told from a different perspective.

In addition to increasing the teaching of Black History, we also need to raise social awareness. There is a dire need for those around us to understand how their words and actions impact the Black community. Most importantly, the world must learn to respect Black culture. We have created a culture that society seems to want to take part in, whether it be our hairstyles or our music, without giving us recognition. We need to bring awareness to the history that Black culture created. February should be a month to embrace Black traditions and educate on all of their contributions to the world.