I was taught by my grandmother to be appreciative for those things with which I have been blessed. Grandmother was proud that there was a time in the year designated for the recognition and celebration of contributions by black folk in America. Carter G. Woodson should be commended for his efforts in achieving February as a month so designated for the world to take some time to say well done black folk.
Comedians joke that black history in February was by design as even the recognition of black folks was limited by the number of days in the shortest month on the calendar. I am a proud black woman and I chose each day to celebrate black history. I celebrate it by honoring the legacy of those famous and unknown whose sacrice, intelligence, creatively, bravery and class gave much to the wealth, culture, science and technology and military success of America and the world.
I celebrate the sacrifice of Ezell A. Blair, Jr., David Leinhall Richmond, Joseph Alfred McNeil and Franklin Eugene McCain who sat down at the counter at the Woolworth Store in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960. Had these four young students not been so brave and proud, we might still today not be able to enjoy Red Lobster, Ryans and the Cheesecake Factory.
I celebrate my childhood neighbor Mr. Roosevelt Hughley who like the fictional character Miss Jane Pittman, walked up the steps at the ice house to drink from the “for whites only” water fountain. I celebrate Mr. James McGraw who was the first black police officer in my hometown. In spite of death threats by angry white residents Officer McGraw dispersed the law to all residents black and white. I celebrate it my valuing my relationship with my friend Helen Kelly whose white ancestors may have helped to hide some of my enslaved ancestors from the bounty hunters who trailed them.
I am saddened that too many of our children take for granted the privileges that they have this day. I feel that we have failed them in teaching them about the struggle, the sacrifice, the water hoses, the dogs, the hangings, the lynchings and the humiliation that so many endured so that we they might enjoy our current freedoms and lifestyle. Some say that we should forget and move on. I say to them, other ethnic groups have not forgotten, Native Americans did not forget, the Japanese did not forget, those of Jewish decent did not forget and neither should we. Celebrating our past, embracing it, appreciating it and learning from it will help us live among ourselves and with others. My celebration is motivated most by the words of Dr. King as I dream his dream, “That one day all of us will be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character” that day will be cause for real celebration.