It’s not about remembering the past in a bad way, but knowing where we were and seeing how far we have come. It is not a time to harbor hatred or ill feelings. It is a time to say “thank you.” I would not be here or have been able to vote, go to college or have all that I do without the things my ancestors went through.
I celebrate black history every month, every day and every minute. When I look in the mirror, I see the strength and beauty of Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman and Bessie Blount. When I am down or discouraged, I hear the echoing words from Langston Hughes, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Carter Godwin Woodson that encourage me to go on.
I have read books, articles and seen movies and photographs. I have cried, been angry and depressed. I have also laughed, cheered and smiled until my face hurt. I chose, a long time ago, not to ignore the stereotypes, a derogatory statement, funny looks or “side jokes,” but to rise up from them and be a better person. I don’t see it as “running away”, but more moving in a different direction, changing course to something far better and more rewarding.
I was told a long time ago not to wait to learn something. I want to learn on my own, gathering my own experiences and forming my own opinions. I have learned to not only say “Thank you” for the many inventions, art and literature of my ancestors, but I give more praise for the sweat, blood and tears. I give a cheer for the hardship they went through, but a louder shout for facing it day after day.
I walked to school with friends without the fear of an angry mob waiting for me. I have sat in every seat on the bus without being told to move. I have been in a VIP section in a fancy restaurant without being ushered out the back door. I have drunk from fountains where the only label was “push here.”
I have chosen to celebrate life, my family and friends, every day. I have chosen to learn, teach and share. I have chosen to live, love and laugh. I have chosen not to ever forget, but to move on in a positive direction in hopes of fulfilling a dream. I hope you all do the same!