Black History Month has been a time of celebration and appreciation for less than 50 years. Prior to that, Negro History Week had only been in effect since 1926. It’s amazing when you realize that this means we have less than 100 years of highlighting the contributions of an integral group of Americans but we are excited that we live in a time where we are better able to know our heroes. Heroes who innovated, who saw a bigger vision, heroes who persevered. Our intent is to know our heroes and here are 3 ways you can do the same:
- May we shine a light on black suffragettes.
While many women long sacrificed and spoke up for the right to vote, not all of American women received the right in 1919 after much protest. In many southern states, it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that black women would fully be able to exercise their right, despite activist like Sojourner Truth, Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s efforts more than 100 years before. We celebrate black suffragettes who spoke up for women they would never see gain the right and freedom to lend their voice to the building of our nation.
- May we shine a light on black veterans.
In a time when the Union army was hesitant to let black men fight alongside white men for fear that it would be harmful to morale, the Civil War would end with more than 200,000 enlistments. Black veterans for years to come would still face lack of support and honor upon returning home, despite their sacrifice and commitment. Today we hope to honor the many black soldiers who responded to the call to defend and protect.
- May we shine a light on black musicians, performers and songwriters.
When we think back on some of history’s greatest communicators of oral history and artistry, African American men and women stood out then and continue to do so today. Musicians like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, singers like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker continue to inspire and open doors for talents like Missy Elliott, John Legend and Beyonce. They inspire verse and rhyme, rhythm and movement and push artists to innovate and stir hearts. Interested in learning more about notable musicians, check out some of these amazing performers!
Who are your heroes?
There are many more underrepresented and unacknowledged heroes in our history. Who are they and how do you make much of their contributions?