"If a race has no history, if it has no evidence of tradition, it stands in danger of being exterminated." This is a quotation from Dr. Carter G. Woodson when he explained his reasons for starting Negro History Week in 1926. Negro History Week has been expanded to Negro History Month or Black History Month, depending upon which area of the United States one might live. February is designated as the month when the contributions of African Americans to the growth and development of the United States are given recognition. Although there are many attempts by various segments of our society to frequently draw attention to the contributions of America's former slaves toward building this great nation, our historians refuse to include black people as an integral part of our nation's history. We are treated as an afterthought or an appendage in their historic documentation.
African Americans are the only ethnic group in America who did not come here by choice, we were brought here in shackles against our will. Despite this dismal method of entry, we have made outstanding contributions to this country and we continue to do our part to keep America as a world leader. It seems to be a reasonable expectation that we be included as an integral part in the annals of history rather than have our contributions treated in an isolated way, usually forgotten when the month of February ends.
America does strange things to its black citizens. There are frequent expressions of acceptance, tolerance, equality and "love" but more frequently black's must defer to some unusual standards if we are to earn (again) or maintain the acceptance, tolerance, equality, and "love" that has been expressed. I am of the notion that somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of America's psyche there still lingers feelings that are tantamount to the idea that black people are inferior, and, that they should be glad to accept the position of second-class citizenry in this country even though we helped to build it with blood, sweat, tears and our very lives.
Regardless as to how we got here, what has happened to us in between, what is happening to us now or what the future holds for us - we are here to stay. We will continue to make meaningful contributions to our country and we will continue to seek first-class citizenship and human respect.
Rosalee T. Walker