Gary Harrell on Black History
Black history is America's history. That's because, from the beginning, black history has been interwoven into the vivid and assorted tapestry that is this great Republic. Of course, that distinction isn't unique. Every American has arrived at this point with a rich and varying history that does not stand apart from what makes America what it is - a history that also deserves to be acknowledged as relevant in its contribution to our comprehensive story. Therefore, we have a duty, each of us, to recognize and honor the histories of all the peoples that make up America.
And just so we're clear: no one should ever think himself privileged enough to minimize the stories, contributions, achievements, and historical facts of any of his fellows; no one should ever dictate whose history matters and whose does not. If someone chooses to ignore a part of history - so be it. Let them, but do not give that person the authority to abridge, rewrite, or censor any part of history for the rest of society.
It probably doesn't need to be said - but too much fighting and too many lives have been given, over so many generations, for us to ever lose sight of why our histories matter. It is even less wise for any of us to remain silent, while some strive to unwind the sociopolitical advances we have made as a plural society. As David McCullough wrote, "History is who we are and why we are the way we are." We have simply come too far to forget the struggles and the triumphs of those that came before us. And we also acknowledge that, for so many millions of Americans, a similar, dogged struggle for acceptance, equality, and inclusion is still ongoing. It is with them, too, that we must stand up to the fear, suspicion, and hate intended to hold them back.
Black history is a reflection of, and a guidepost to, who we are and who we can be as a people and as a society. It demonstrates with eloquence for anyone willing to learn just how completely and immutably both a people and a nation worked to shape each other. When we approach that history - and, well, any history making up America's story - we must do so with thoughtfulness, maturity, and honesty. There are, after all, so many important lessons to be learned, if we seek to understand who we are, how we've gotten to this point, and where we can go from here.