I have very mixed feelings about National African American History Month, also called Black History Month, which is why I haven’t added posts to my blog during the month of February. Historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History suggested the week that became the month of February’s annual observance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Since the history of African-Americans has been the hidden and marginalized history of the United States of America, I believe there should be full integration of African-Americans in American history. I wonder if giving the history of African-Americans one month on the calendar and “American History” all year all the time, further marginalizes the important people, events, contributions and sacrifices February is supposed to celebrate.
Some say take the month and really celebrate; others say you can’t, in just a month’s time, celebrate or even tell how America became America on the backs of people who still struggle for respect and a fair share of her riches. I raise these issues though I don’t pretend to have the definitive answer to this historical equity dilemma. What I choose to do is share what I know and what I find out about Black History in America—my history—throughout the year.
There is so much we don’t know about ourselves that even with one daily revelation, I doubt we’d ever run out of people, events, contributions and sacrifices to share. In just this past year, I wrote about Eugene Jacque Bullard, Maggie Lena Walker, Belle da Costa Greene and important places like Richmond’s Jackson Ward and Evergreen Cemetery, just from the research I uncovered while writing my novel, Provenance.
For Veterans Day I wrote about the military prowess of African-Americans in America’s fight for freedom—from the Revolutionary War to today. I rejoiced when Provenance was a finalist for the 2016 Phillis Wheatley Award because it was an honor to place in a competition that bears the name of the first published African American female writer. I said goodbye to Barack Obama, a Black man and one of the greatest Presidents the United States has ever had.
All of these people, places, events, contributions, and sacrifices are too much history for a mere month, so I will continue to write about American history in all of its colorful glory when the spirit and history move me, be it February or any other month of the year.