It's Black History Month, where are the flags?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Arlene Jones

Columnist

February is Black History Month. What initially began as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson soon morphed into an entire month-long celebration because the contributions of African Americans to this country cannot be contained by a mere seven days. 

Just a couple of years ago, uninformed black people had something smart to say about Black History Month being the shortest month of the year. That timeframe question or derivative thereof, would repeatedly be presented so that the importance of Black History Month could be negated by focusing on minutiae. 

"It's the shortest month," and "I can't deal with hearing about slavery," were just some of the commentaries being bandied about. In retrospect, it seems like a conspiracy to instill in black people the notion that we didn't need to highlight the accomplishments of those men, women and children stolen from Africa and brought to America. 

Now we're halfway through the month, and instead of its importance being magnified, I'm seeing less focus on it by major companies. But, as it was at the beginning, it is up to black people to focus on our history 365 days a year, with a special emphasis in the month of February. We cannot bemoan what we don't demand!

Where are the red, black and green Pan-African flags flying in this city? With any other group that has a day celebrating their ethnicity, homeland, or sexual orientation, you can see their flags flying everywhere. Especially on their cars. But the flag that represents red for the blood, black for the skin, green for the land, is noticeably absent. I fly the flag on my car 365 days, as well as one hanging from my rearview. Maybe if an entrepreneur bought a bunch of those flags and stood out on the corner selling them, it would be a visual reminder that black people should fly the flag in January for Dr. King's birthday; in February for Black History Month; in April for Booker T. Washington; in May for Malcolm X; in August for Marcus Garvey and the Bud Billiken Day Parade, etc. In truth I could list a reason for every month of the year.

Where are all the television specials highlighting the contributions of African Americans this month? What other group has produced so many memorable and historical accomplishments like the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen or Harriet Tubman? The orations of Frederick Douglass are as poetic as anything Shakespeare wrote. The same can be said of Langston Hughes who captures the very essence of the black experience in America. Just the fact that our ancestors were freed without anything other than the rags on their backs and the knowledge in their heads, and over 155 years later we are still here, is a testimony to their strength, intelligence, and resilience.

The state of Illinois has been mandated to teach black history in public schools. I personally believe that black people should form a Saturday black history school, and send our children to it so they can learn the history. Within our individual families, we should pay homage to those unknown enslaved ancestors who paved the way for us to be here today.

Black History Month is not only a month to celebrate. 

It is a time to reflect.

Love the News?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Austin Weekly News and AustinWeeklyNews.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Austin Weekly News 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Austin and Garfield Park.


            
AdvertiseClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad