This country got off to a rocky start. In order to conquer this new found land, the colonists not only killed many of the inhabitants, they imported people of color to help them till their fields and harvest their crops. Not satisfied with the boundary of color, they imposed the institution of slavery and crafted laws that gave rights only to people like them. Value and worth were ascribed to race and people who were black were deemed subhuman and treated like chattel. While there were consistent rebellions the institution of slavery lasted almost 150 years in America. Even the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence did not change what fundamentally America was about. It was not until the Civil War that there was a realization that things had to change.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to realize the magnificent contributions of African Americans in making this country what it is today. This goes beyond Crispus Attucks or even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There were many unnamed who paid the supreme sacrifice to advance the cause. Slavery could not stop it, nor could bounty hunters, or the KKK, or lynching, or segregation, or Jim Crow, or Police Dogs, or misled or fearful policemen. There remained a belief in the American ideal. That “all men are created equal” is more than just words. It is a creed.
As we celebrate, we should rededicate ourselves to make America better. We cannot be satisfied with progress when we have not achieved the goal. We have a long way to go. We must keep pushing toward the mark. We cannot forget people like Denmark Vessey, Mary McLeod Bethune, General Benjamin O. Davis, A. Philip Randolph. Dorothy Height, Ralph Bunche, James Nesbitt, and many others, famous or not, who committed themselves to making things better for everyone.
A visit to this site will acquaint with many you should have heard about.
As you celebrate this month, remember that all of these people were made possible through the sacrifice of others. The struggle is long but it is worth it.