Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and Emmett Till are five of hundreds of national icons who made enormous sacrifices, motivated by the hope of a better future for the United States of America. They sacrificed safety, stability, reputation, security and in some instances, their lives, to create equality and prosperity for future generations.
Today, we live in a society that may not be as prosperous as we wish but one that individuals such as Dr. King and Robinson changed and improved. Citizens and members of the country should recognize the actions and sacrifices of these heroes for more than just a month.
This is not to say that designating February as Black History Month is a bad thing, as it is educate students and remember the discrimination and hatred that once ravaged America. It is an important celebration of the good that has been sparked and the bad that is continuously being expunged. But to limit that celebration and appreciation to a month, to say that the risks taken, the sacrifices made and the change brought about can be summed up and fully honored in the span of short month is disrespectful.
It is a common sentiment that during the month of February individuals and communities are brought together, celebrating the lives and impacts of these leaders. But it unfortunately seems as if the conclusion of the month equates to the conclusion of the important celebration. It seems that when the month is finished, it is no longer important to recognize the actions of these individuals. But the the breaking of color barriers in sports, legislation like the Civil Rights Acts and the displays of justice and equality through marches, sit-ins and protests are evident for 12 months of the year, and should be honored and respected for that duration.
Headlines on CNN and FOX may not read what we want, but they used to spread news of lynchings and beatings of African-Americans. The impact of the individuals who transformed a reluctant society are felt for 365 days a year. So why do we honor them for only 28.
Today, every student has the opportunity to pursue a public education regardless of skin color. No organization or group refuse service to individuals because of race. Civil Rights leaders placed new lenses on the eyes of a colorblind society, a society that, albeit needs growth and improvement, but is filled with hope and potential. These influential figures are not merely icons in African-American history, they are trailblazers in American history. They paved a road for a better future, a road that we have the privilege of traveling on today.
Whether it’s February, July or December, the good that was brought into the world and the change that was inspired by African-Americans in history should never be forgotten. For students, teachers and administrators, for all citizens of the United States of America, don’t stop at one month.