Much can be said and more should be written about the creative explosion of the 1920s called the Harlem Renaissance. It was a time when social barriers were everywhere and opportunities for blacks were limited. But that did not stop them from seeking ways to elevate themselves, planting seeds for later greatness.
We have often noted names like Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, Josephine Baker, Aaron Douglas, Dorothy West, Allan Rohan Crite, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jacob Lawrence, Weldon Johnson, Florence Mills, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, William “Bojangles” Robinson and Hubert Harrison.
Today, these ancestors are remembered with their writings and paintings celebrated all over the world. The history of this wave of greatness cannot and should not be masked in the smallest month on the calendar, February.
Now is the time for us to look and relearn this historic social and educational phenomenon and free ourselves from the pursuits of “creature comforts.” Rise and claim that which is a part of us. Let us build from our rich history and expand by having more cultural enrichment programs. The Harlem Renaissance of the ‘20s was a challenging time, just as it is today. The seeds of our greatness were sown then. Let us find ways to reseed and build the hope and fulfill our destiny.
I enjoyed reading the Banner’s black history stories. It creates a framework for thinking about Black History Month, and the role of all races and ethnicities in an increasingly diverse country.
I was born in the post-Civil Rights era, but it would be dismissive to support the end of Black History Month. However, I agree that maintaining Black History Month would not address the entire issue. Contributions from black culture should not be viewed as a separate entity but one that is intertwined in America’s history. Educational standards should include raising a collective consciousness so that students can say “Black history is our history, along with stories from other racial minorities.”
History should not simply reference contributions from racial minorities as blips of isolated achievements, but rather as results of living in a collective society.