The North Star

Black History Month deserves more recognition

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Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

            “Strange Fruit”  by Billie Holiday a  song about racism and the  atrocities committed against Black Americans.

Unjustified beatings, lynching, and even being burned alive were constant fears for  black men, women, and children  not just in the south but across America.

But the storm always passes, as so Black Americans look upon the 265 years of slavery and near 100 years of public segregation and government approved oppression and see the resilience and accomplishments of the past and present.

The celebration of Black History Month is not to only recognize the struggles of slavery and oppression but to bring to light the achievements of Black Americans which can easily be overlooked by many.

In the United States, February is recognized as Black History Month. This month is used to highlight the innumerable important contributions notable African Americans have made in this country.

This month is important because it can be used as a source to celebrate how far African Americans have come as a race, to put more emphasis on African American achievements outside of typical history lessons,  and to educate those who may be uneducated to the importance of black history.

Black History Month originated as Negro History Week. Created by Dr. Carter G. Woodso n in Washington D.C. in 1926. Woodson was born in Virginia 1875 in and received a doctorate from Harvard University in 1912. While in college, he noticed that in history books, African American History was either misrepresented,  or simply just not found in textbooks all together.

To encourage black studies outside of misrepresented education, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life in 1915. In 1916, he published the journal of African American History, full of the history now seen in our current textbooks.

Woodson hosted the first Black History Week after contri buting his book in 1926.

Woodson’s goal was to ensure that black culture was being taught to school children and highlighted more than just academics.

Negro History Week developed into a full month when the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University proposed the idea in February 1969, hosting the inaugural celebration in February of 1970, 26 years after Woodson’s death.

This month is celebrated so that this country will never forget the countless acts of black excellence our ancestors have displayed in America.

There are many in opposition of the celebration of this month for many  reasons.

It’s been six years since the death of Tray’Von Martin. Martin was fatally wounded on February 26,2012 in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was a member of the neighborhood watch and made a call to 911 to report a “suspicious person” in the neighborhood.

Zimmerman was instructed not to approach the suspect but moments later, neighbors reported hearing gunfire. At 7:30 p.m. on February 26, Martin lost his life.

Although, this event was tragic its only one of many.

Sandra Bland, was arrested during a traffic stop in Waller County, Texas on July 13, 2015. Three days later she was found hanging in her jail cell. Her cause of death- Asphyxia.

According to Dictionary, Asphyxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen. Sandra’s family says questions surrounding Bland’s death remain mysterious and unanswered.

In 2017, police harmed 1,147 people in the United. 35%(282) of those people being Black despite only being 13% of the population. Police Brutality was more frequent in 2017 than in the last year.

Due to cases like this, Black Lives Matter came about. Black Lives Matter was founded on July 13, 2013.

“The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.” Says Black Lives Matter.

Junior at Omaha North, Kyrii Richardson feels he is minimally being taught of the complex leaders and events within African American History.

“In history classes, we learn about varieties of history with the Germans, Spanish, French, and so on,” Richardson continued, “meanwhile we’re still learning about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.”

The closest sort of film Richardson has ever seen in school of African American history is a documentary, as for other founders and explorers he has seen movies and plays.

“African American History should be taught all year around because African Americans are still Americans and it is still history,” Richardson said.

History and English teacher, Jann Dappen, has been at Omaha North for 31 years. Throughout the years, Dappen has not seen change in the way history courses in education is being taught.

Deliberately through high school or college, the lessons of African American history seemed to correlate. “Thirty-six years ago, in college I took an African American History class,” Dappen continued , “where we learned about the standard Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.”

With wanting to know more about in-depth information about African American History than what Dappen had been taught, she watched films and read many articles, and attended presentations to educate herself.

She too had not been exposed of African American History prior to college where it was not directed in her curriculum.

“There are resources that gives you the opportunity to learn knowledge about things you don’t know, as all history teachers should be informed about real African American History,” Dappen said.

In the meantime, Dappen and other colleagues have been on the textbook committee for about four years still working for change in what the district’s students are taught.

“All white old guy stories are what we are given to read,” Dappen said.

Dappen takes time to cover outside information containing African American History that is not presented in the textbook.

“In my classes, I make sure we read articles about Black Lives Matter and other current African American events that do matter,” Dappen said.

The celebration of Black History Month is not to only recognize the struggles of slavery and oppression but to bring to light the achievements of Black Americans. As this can easily be overlooked by those who blankly have no idea, they are to be informed.

With the help of the school systems everywhere, both private and public, endorsing the importance of African Americans in the U.S., not only through history but culture as well, it could leave a beneficial impact nationally.

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The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School
Black History Month deserves more recognition