Black History Month is a month of remembrance, education, and action. It is a month to remember not just the Black revolutionaries but the history of Black people in America. With Black History Month, it is imperative of non-Black people to educate themselves on Black history in America. With remembering Black history, we must also confront the astounding oppression that exists in America today towards the Black population.
Revolutionaries in Black history fought for the end of slavery, for the right to vote, for civil rights, and for the right to be treated equally and equitably. With their consistent fight, struggle, and want for justice, strides have been made for society to be a little more just, a little more equal.
However, the American racial past is its racial present and if society remains as is, will continue to be its future. From police brutality to disenfranchisement of Black Americans to the high incarceration rate of Black Americans to de-facto housing segregation, racism in America is not only alive, but thriving. With the ongoing scapegoating of critical race theory and heightened sense of white fragility present in parents attending school board meetings, Black people are villainized again and again in popular discourse. Although a month of remembrance is needed and necessary, it is furthermore necessary to remember Black history and Black radicals in day-to-day life in America. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. that are sanitized to fit into a palatable form of social justice, the impact of Malcolm X that is heavily ignored, and the Black Lives Matter movement, often antagonized and misinterpreted.
Recently, the College Board unveiled its final curriculum for an AP course on African American history. The board removed core material due to pressure from Florida governor, Ron DeSantis (the College Board denies that they revised the course due to pressure, however). The content removed includes sections titled “the Movement for Black Lives,” and “Black Struggle in the 21st Century.” The BBC reports, “Sections on Black Lives Matter and slavery reparations have been removed from the exam and are now optional projects, while a new section on ‘Black Conservatism’ has been added.” The College Board’s decision to omit large portions of Black history are not surprising – the decision is a symbol of the fabric of institutionalized racism in the US. Disallowing the education of integral parts of Black history reinforces a system of inequality. While white institutions continue to sanctify the erasure of Black history in each facet of American society, issues that plague Black Americans in the present are an extension of Black history. Black history is not something that we must learn as a thread from the past, but one that is ongoing. From police brutality, income inequality, and overall injustice, we must continuously fight for equity and justice.
Through this Black History Month, we support the fight for social justice, policy change, and societal shift in the structures of oppression that exist against Black Americans.