The Importance of Black History Month for Today’s Students

Black History Month is an important time for students to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of countless Civil Rights advocates and supporters who made so many rights and freedoms possible today.

Photograph by Andrew Stawicki

Some kids don’t realize how lucky they are. They live in a country, in a time, where their race, color, and background do not hold them back. I’m not saying that everything is perfect now, but in the past it was a lot worse.

Even in other countries today, your birth can control more about your life than your intelligence, drive, and abilities. With that in mind, this February we celebrate Black History Month. A month to remind ourselves how great is the strides that have been made and how sorely our forefathers fought for them.

Black History Still Relevant

Most students today look at our nation’s history as some long-ago battle that no longer relates to the modern world. They do not realize just how long the battle was and how short a time it has been since it was fought.

Even today, we are still fighting the battle against prejudice and racism, though not even to a tenth of the extent that we had to fight it in the past. There is no denying that great strides have been made, nor is there any argument that there is still much to be done. However, students need to realize that the Civil Rights Movement is not ancient history. It was not completed when the pyramids were built, when Columbus discovered America, not even when World War II was fought. It was less than fifty years ago.

What does that mean? That means that some of their parents, and definitely their grandparents, remember life before the Civil Rights Movement. They remember separate bathrooms, the insults and comments, the battles won and lost. But their grandchildren don’t. They need to be reminded that freedom and equality were fought for, long and hard, and the battle is still ongoing. They need to be reminded that we didn’t always have an African-American President, that they couldn’t always choose what college to go to, or who to date. That it wasn’t always as good as they have it today.

Celebrating Black History and Black History Supporters

Black History Month is a time to remember who fought and what they fought for, what struggles they overcame and why they tried so hard.

It doesn’t matter if students are told about musical forbearers, like Count Basie, inventors and innovators like George Washington Carver, abolitionists and women’s rights advocates like Sojourner Truth, or civil rights activists and martyrs like Martin Luther King Jr.  What matters is that they learn about the struggles and battles that these brave individuals went through to make their lives what they are today.

Students need to take this opportunity especially during Black History Month to realize and be thankful for the world they find themselves a part of now. The past shapes the future, though we may forget that sometimes. History is not something to be studied and forgotten, but rather something to be revered and learned from. The people who fought so hard for the future should not be forgotten or dismissed.

Thankfully, Black History Month gives us an opportunity to share the past with the students of today and hopefully open their eyes to what they should be thankful for.

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Do you think today’s students understand the importance of Black History Month? How do students at your child’s school celebrate Black History? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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