Why Black History Month was so important to me this year
I'll tell you. This year was a strange one for me. Had some rough times. There were job losses, an arrest, a "light layoff"(dont ask), family stresses, no women issues (Thank God), but it was a rough year. Everyday I was looking for something that inspire me to push through some of the toughest times I'd dealt with up to this point. I had been in prayer and in contact with close friends for encouragement, and at this time Black History month was approaching. I had JUST decided that I was going to forgo the normal route of job searching. It just wasnt working and decided to do freelance social media management so I approached the church I am attending to see if they'd let em be there social media manager. They ended up not following up but by referral I was able to land my first client. But I digress. What the church DID allow me to do was edit a film project they wanted to present where they interviewed 5 members of the church who were above the age of 80. The told stories of growing up in rural North Carolina and being among the community of antebellum sharecroppers in the state. Their generation would be the last wave to work the cotton fields before the Civil Rights movement and its impact on African Americans ability to receive a better educational standing. Sifting through 2 hours of video I was blown away by the stories they told. It changed me. I had always been an advocate of disenfranchised people but I had never heard first hand stories presented in that manner. These were people that I saw every Sunday at church and had absolutely no idea what they had experienced and endured.
Every Black History Month there are members of all races that make jokes about it and devalue the importance of it, and admittedly I was one of those people. "Isn't that the month we learn about MLK and the guy who invented peanut butter?" my best friend joked in a convo we had about Black History Month. But for me, this time something was different. I thought about what genius scientist or artist could have been hidden in the cotton field in 1910 sharecropping in Union County, NC because it was the only option for skilled labor that their family was aware of. And even still, I thought about the people during that time and since who have had to painstakingly and unnecesasarily prove there worth as human beings. Coming to this realization made my situation not worth mentioning, or complaining about. Not only that, but the stories of escaped slaves ,and girls who went from cotton field to college educated motivated me to use EVERY gift I have to make my way in the world whether it be creatively or business wise. There is absolutely NO excuse that I can give for not putting the time in and using my education and gifts and intellect to make a difference and be a success.
Its not only because I'm a Black man. In my opinion, Black peoples' story arc in this country in many represents the essence of what America is about, their stories should inspire us all. Black people's strength of sprit and voice, and our influence is staggering given our slight numbers in the population. People all over the world can learn from and find motivation in the progress we've been able to make as a people and I appeal to you to take Black History Month a little more seriously next year. Remember your family and/or friends and what they went through. I pledge to observe the accomplishments of Black and Brown people during and after Black History Month because those accomplishments are the reason why I can sit in this nice ass coffee shop and write this post to you this afternoon.