Best Black History Month Ever?

black_history_month_stampsAt 28 days, February is the shortest month of the calendar year. It’s also the same month that celebrates and highlights black history.

Actually the month only pays homage to our history in America as if we didn’t exist before we arrived here, but that’s another discussion entirely.

It’s been a running joke amongst African-Americans that the shortest month of the year was selected intentionally  by the “white man” as a slight.

In fact, it was Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, who started this whole thing back in the 1920’s as “Negro History Week.”

Turns out Woodson picked February as tip of the cap to both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass who both have birthdays in February, 

Now here we are in 2009 and the month has a whole new significance. Thanks to the 2008 election, we were able to witness what was possibly the greatest feat in African-American history thus far. But what makes Barack Obama’s achievement special is the fact that it was done in “their” political system. Which was once the very source of our dissatisfaction in the country.

What’s even more beautiful is that President Obama isn’t the only African-American making history in the political sphere lately. Just today, Eric Holder was named the nation’s first African-American Attorney General. And whether or not it was a genuine selection or a political ploy, the Republican National Committee picked Michael Steele as their chairman, making him the the first African-American to hold the position.

On Sunday Mike Tomlin became the second African-American to win a Superbowl, just three seasons after former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy became the first.

 When I was growing up, the majority of major political accomplishments made by African-Americans were made in the past, with the exception of maybe Colin Powell being the first black to become Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was also the black person to be named Secretary of State.

But these more recent political accomplishments, particularly Barack Obama’s, reflect more than the skill of the individual. They represent a shift in the perception of of African-Americans in this country, which is still predominantly white.

While it would be naive to think that we have arrived at a point of equality that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke about, it should be recognized that big strides have been made.

Personally I won’t say we’ve arrived until I stop feeling guilty when I drive past the cops.

Baby steps.


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