Keeping the Dream Alive

Black History Month and United We Walk in our West Bloomfield community.

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Keeping the Dream Alive

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February prompted everyone to remember the great achievements of pertinent African Americans in this country. February has been formally recognized as Black History Month in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. The month is a widely recognized and celebrated one that serves as a remembrance of important African Americans and events in history that affected America. Originally, in 1926, the celebration was started by historian Carter G Woodson, who declared the second week of February as “Negro History Week.” The second week was chosen to hold that honor because of the significance it held. By that time, the Black communities had been celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass during the second week of February since the late 19th century. When the US was celebrating the Bicentennial of the country, it was decided that Black History Month would become a month long celebration.
There have been many African Americans who have changed not only our country, but also the world. Many African Americans have left their mark in history and have become household names. Some of the people that have changed the world include, Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player, who opened the door for other African Americans to follow. Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest leader in the Civil Rights Movement, who helped gain the rights of Black Americans in order for them to be equal to all Americans.  Rosa Parks, who was a pioneering woman, who did not give up her seat on a bus to a white man when demanded to do so, because the laws in that time period required Blacks to sit only in the back of buses. These people led a civil rights revolution that changed the US and its laws. Black History Month is a time to celebrate, appreciate, and remember all the incredible things that African Americans have done to change the way we live our lives today.

 

There are many more Black individuals who have changed the world and for different reasons. Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013, was an extremely accomplished man. He had fought against apartheid, which was a policy in South Africa that segregated and discriminated based on race. He was also a philanthropist, who worked tirelessly for great causes. He was the President of South Africa from 1994-1999. President Mandela was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years, with hard labor, for his political views, even though he was sentenced to life in prison. Mandela was a man of peace and wanted to spread his message. He was against segregation, discrimination, and anything else that would have been harmful to him or anyone else. Additional important African Americans who have changed our lives include, Elijah McCoy (owner of 57 patents), Jesse Owens (Olympic athlete), Wendell Scott (1st African American race car driver), Langston Hughes (Writer/Poet during the Harlem Renaissance), George Washington Carver (Inventor despite being born into slavery), Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. (1st African American Air Force General), and many more. These heroic and successful people are just a few of the many brave and determined African Americans who helped improve our lives and helped others follow in their footsteps.
Today, we have even more people who help inspire February as Black History Month. Oprah Winfrey, who is one of the wealthiest women in the US, is a successful talk show host, owner of a TV network, owner a magazine, actress, producer, author, and CEO of Harpo productions. Between May 2011 and May 2012, Winfrey earned 160 million dollars, reaching new heights. Additionally, she has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from President Barack Obama. She has also been awarded  an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University. As of 2015, she has a net worth of 3 billion dollars. In 2009, the first African American was sworn in as President of the Unites States–Barack Obama. He is married to the first African American first lady in the history of the nation. This has broken any glass ceiling that had been in place for African Americans in the history of this country.
As part of Black History Month our community had a weekend long celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, January 18th, 2015. West Bloomfield Township held the annual United We Walk march in order to honor and commemorate the dream of Dr. King and help keep his dream alive. Many people braved the frigid temperatures in order to emphasize the importance of the day as well as the movement so that current and future generations will live in unity and peace. Participants marched on Orchard Lake Road and listened to keynote speaker, Dr. Jay Marks, PhD, among others. Emotions ran high as the event concluded with music and a candlelight vigil. When Jonny Nirenberg (senior), a leader of United We Walk, was questioned about how it felt to be apart and attend the event he responded, “As a leader of the United We Walk organization, I feel it is important to promote diversity in our community. United We Walk offers an opportunity to do this. It is at estimate to MLK’s dream and helps promote his values of; honor, respect, diversity, and courage.”

United We Walk

Tara Naoum and Jianella Macalino
United We Walk

United We Walk

Tara Naoum and Jianella Macalino
United We Walk

United We Walk

Tara Naoum and Jianella Macalino
United We Walk

 

In order to capture the sentiment of students at WBHS, four students were interviewed. When asked why it is important to have an entire month dedicated to celebrate Black history, Josh Carlin (freshman) respond, “I think it is important because African Americans have been discriminated against for a long time, so they deserve a period of recognition.” Maroukie Khemmoro (sophomore) said, “It is important to celebrate Black History Month because we learn a lot about it and it also shows us how significant Black History Month is.” When questioned about how Black History Month has changed them, Areesha Shahab (sophomore) stated, “It has made me appreciate my African American friends more!” Katie Rockett (freshman) responded, “I do not know how it has changed me, but it has made me realize that it is strange to single out race and limit it to one month. Why not celebrate Black history all the time? Or all races’ histories all the time?”
Black History Month may only be a month long, but the people who changed the world deserve more than just one month of recognition. Please take at least the month of February every year to honor the achievements of African Americans everywhere, as many did last month.

 

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