Why Is It Important to Celebrate Black History Month?

What is the best gift you have ever received in your life? As Americans, we may say money, new car, house, and other material things. That used to be my answer, until I realized that the best gifts in life for me are those things that could not be replaced. The best gifts for me are memories that I cannot only rewind, but also cherish. Take a seat, and relax because I want to share a memory of mines with you.

I was ten years old; I remember crossing the street on the South Side of Chicago to my grandmother’s house. I enjoyed spending time with my grandmother because she made the best cornbread and macaroni and cheese. When I arrived at my grandmother’s house, she asked me about the lessons I was taught in school. I told her I didn’t learn anything because I wanted to eat instead of share what I learned. She told me that she was going to fix me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of the usual cornbread and mac and cheese. I thought she was joking, until she pulled out the loaf of bread and a bag of potato chips. My grandmother was a former history teacher, and made sure I was aware of the evolving culture of African Americans. She told me when I crossed the streets to her house,  the traffic light, discovered by Garret Augustus Morgan, allowed me to safely cross the streets. I learned that peanuts were discovered by George Washington Carver, and the potato chips were invented by George Crum. Charles Drew was the inventor of the blood transfusion, which saved people’s lives. The elevator, door knob, refrigerator, fire extinguisher, and even the mail box are creations of African American inventors. I sat there in shock because I didn’t know who these people were. Some of the items I use every day were discovered by African Americans. She calmly explained to me that these were African American inventors I should have learned about because, without them, I wouldn’t have the privilege to enjoy their inventions.

Black history month is important because it reminds everyone of how far African American culture has come, and that the work is continuous. Now as an adult, I understood the lesson my grandmother taught me. It is very important to remember black history month because the African American inventors, scientists, physicians, activists, and leaders opened doors not only for African Americans, but also for other minorities to have an equal chance in achieving our goals. Black history month allows us to celebrate with knowledge, engage the community, inform the youth and reflect on the past. The lesson that my grandmother taught me was to understand the struggle and sacrifice that blacks endured to achieve equal rights and tolerance in society. Without activists such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Whitney Young, Harriet Tubman, and Fredrick Douglass, African Americans would not be free, able to vote, achieve the best education, and have an equal chance of getting a job. Our African American ancestors planted the seeds, and now we are the root and stem, waiting to blossom to leave a legacy for the next generation. Black history month is important because it represents a culture that builds bridges. Each accomplishment is a bridge that other blacks can cross to contribute to a better America and a better world.