We should not celebrate African American History Month in February. We should celebrate African American History every day. The high school I went to—Cass Technical High—offered Black history classes, and I took them to sort of figure things out. During my childhood and teenage years, race relations were a conundrum to me. I did not understand the why behind slavery, Jim Crow, and inequality. Over 30 years have passed, and these events remain a conundrum to me.
What has also remained was what I learned from the Black history classes I took: pride, confidence, and fortitude. This has helped me maintain an I know I can do it attitude. Even today, whenever I feel challenged, I think of the trail blazers who went before me.
Maya Angelou was one of those trail blazers.
(Oprah's Master Class - OWN, May 28, 2014)
Maya had a less than stellar childhood. After being abused, she vowed she would not speak and lived in silence for a number of years. Maya’s mother gave her to her grandmother, and it was there that her grandmother and a teacher whispered hope into her spirit. Maya’s silence did not preclude her from becoming one of the greatest civil rights activists, educators, and writers. Now her words whisper hope into the spirit of those who will listen. Void of bitterness, her words are honest, true, and achievable. And they inspire me every time I read them, hear them, and speak them.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” (Angelou, from Brainyquote).
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (Angelou, from Brainyquote).
“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” (Angelou, from Brainyquote).
African American history must be rooted and grounded in the hearts of African Americans. It must become a renewable resource, available for the taking whenever we need it. When we are faced with challenges, we need to think about those who faced an even tougher challenge and survived and flourished. Doing so will inspire an I know I can do it attitude. Thinking about great achievements of African Americans once a month is not enough.
What part of your history inspires you? This is the story in you. Share it.
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Brainy Quotes. (2001-2015). Brainy Quote > Maya Angelou. Retrieved from brainyquote.com
Goodreads Incorporated. (2015). Goodreads > Maya Angelou. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes
OWNTV. (May 28, 2014). Oprah’s Master Class – OWN. Dr. Maya Angelou’s 3-word secret to living your best life. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr6LMr-rXEc