As I thought back to my childhood, I was always aware of Black History Month. This was the one month out of the year when I was forced to do book reports every week, learn Negro Spirituals and Poems, watch film rolls about slavery and segregation and even go to the Smithsonian or the Blacks in Wax Museum.
This was the one time of year when we paid homage to Martin Luther King for standing up for civil rights. We admired Rosa Parks for staying at the front of the bus, and we were confused about if Malcolm X was good or not so good…. Oh, and let’s not forget how we bow down to Madame CJ Walker for inventing that straightening comb!
Around this time of year, students from many different schools gathered on public television to talk about how, “they have a dream”, and they want to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King. Kids need to learn about the heroes of the past. They need to understand how the sacrifices of Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm and Thurgood Marshall gave us the freedom to be as lazy as we want now. I’m sorry, gave us the ability to dream big and go further!
But, I’m not a kid anymore…the foundation has been set, so what now? Who are those African-American men and women that stand up for those without a voice? Are you selling books or are you motivating a movement? Are you challenging the system because it’s broken or is it a part of your own political agenda? Has the media killed our modern-day heroes?
I believe that the answer is that we cannot wait for a savior. We must all play a role in the next chapter of our history. No matter which Black history martyrs that you chose to research they all had one thing in common, they didn’t wait for someone else to form their destiny, they boldly faced the challenge. No, everyone will not be an explorer like Matthew Henson or an inventor like George Washington Carver, but let’s start by being the best Devonte or Keniesha we can be in this lifetime. Let’s show respect for those whose “Life ain’t been no Crystal Stair” and carry yourself with dignity in the street. Stop cursing and using the “N” word on the subway trains and when you speak in public places, chose a octave that allows others to enjoy themselves as well…And if you can do that, you would be a HERO in my eyes! Sometimes it just takes a change in the ways in which we think that will lead to better actions.
But it’s not just Shanika that’s trippin! Its Dr., Bishop, Reverend _____ out there. You know how they say that gold diggers are “F’in for Bags”, well they are “Preaching for Bentley’s”. They are so busy trying to fill their pews with celebrities and big ballers so that they can get that 10% that they are forgetting that they are the foundation of the African-American community! Tyrone might not attend every Sunday, but if he gets locked up, his momma that has been faithful to your church will want you to write that letter to the judge! I joke, but it’s sad that these men that were once pillars of the community that people looked at with respect and often lead some of the most prolific civil rights movements in the community are now calling their lawyers to get out of baby momma drama, infidelity charges, tax evasion and gay scandals. Marvin said it the best, “What’s Going On”?
If we are to have real modern-day heroes then we need an overall attitude and moral adjustment. We are by no means starting over, but I think it’s important that we take a moment to reassess ourselves if we keep running so fast that we forget our history and overlook the details.
Martin Luther King, Jr.