By Meghan Smith
For the News-Gazette
You can tell a great deal about a country by what they deem important enough to remember.
You can say that America holds its traditions sacred as a country. Events that create moments speak volumes about what the country has been through. Carter G. Woodson played a great role in helping all Americans know black history. In February 1926, he created Negro History Week in Washington, D.C. Woodson was the second African American to receive a Ph.D. in history from Harvard. This event has transpired into what we know today as Black History Month.
The celebration of black history has become increasingly more important with the recent events of 2020 and 2021. According to the president of the Osceola branch of the NAACP, Deloris McMillon, “The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to how blacks are treated compared to other races.”
She added that “all lives matter but black lives matter and should be treated equally.”
McMillion has had a major impact on her community. She integrated St. Cloud High School in 1969 as the first black teacher.
She said, “I’m proud of the positive impact on the community I’ve had and what I’ve contributed.”
She also believed we should be reflecting on this month is African American woman leadership. Kamala Harris took office this year as the first black American and the first woman as Vice President of the United States. This is a huge achievement for the African American community as well as an achievement for women. McMillion even referenced how she and Vice President Harris are sorority sisters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Her personal connection to this achievement is so telling of how this community is bonded. McMillion says, “More genders of African Americans, as well young African Americans, are stepping up as well. It allows us to really look at all ages and genders of blacks instead of just focusing on the men’s achievements.” She even referenced how “African American women paved the way to space.” The movie Hidden Figures portrays real-life events of African American women as mathematicians for NASA during the Space Race. These events are extremely significant in not only black history but also American history.
Black History Month has allowed us to continue to draw inspiration and guidance from the past. The African American history has been devastating and encouraging. This community of people has made huge strides in the last 70 years from segregation to taking office as leaders of this country. McMillion concluded by saying, “Black history is American history and should be focused year-round.” February is such an important month as we get to honor the struggle and the ancestors that played such a huge role in shaping this country. This celebration is just as vibrant today as it did when Woodson created it in 1926, just as he intended.