Op-ed: a pair of impactful reads for Black History Month and beyond
The month of February means different things to people. For some, it's the coldest stretch of the winter; for others, it's all-star season given the NHL and NBA all-star games. And given how every 4 years (with 2024 being "up next") the month has a 29th day, it's something a little different.
And then, it's Black History Month.
The month is created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who at the time is told that Black people have little to no historical or societal impact.
From its evolution from a day to a week, to a month, while some may wonder why focus on the month, it comes down to being a highlight of the contributions of people of African descent within not just the US, but globally. Even more important is knowing how deeply embedded the past, present, and future societal framings and beyond of said demographic truly are.
Essentially, Black and Brown people truly have something powerful to say despite efforts to mute the conversation.
And while there are a number of amazing resources which speak to the rich and embedded presence of this impactful demographic, here are two books which can be "bridge builders" and ones which I'll periodically refer to beyond the month of February.
Lerone Bennett, Jr's Before the Mayflower is one of the more comprehensive reads I've read. From the time I'm introduced to the book as a college sophomore (let's just say many moons ago, LOL) to the updates, it essentially documents history from 1619 to the present day (depending on which edition you have). In all likelihood, the 1619 Project is inspired by this work, as to say there's a tremendous history and documentation of efforts across the social, economic, and political strata which for some reason is not covered let's you know there's more to the story than what any of us have been shared, taught, or told. Equally impactful is Stolen Legacy by George GM James. With a detailed chronicle is history prior to the advent of Western Civilization, including the rise and intentional ruin of key areas in the African continent, are compelling and simply make you ask the simply yet powerful question.
And that is the question of why?
Again, there's an outstanding cannon of books and related research which do more than fill in the gaps given the K-12 and beyond educational experience. In learning more, you truly learn more and raise the questions which hopefully raise one's perspectives. In doing so, when more elevate, the potential game-changing is limitless.
Black History truly is our history, from locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Enjoy the highlights of the month and be intentional with your engagement, sharing, exchanging, and action. Even bigger is knowing and noting is not to limit the learning to the month.
Go beyond and understand there's a difference-maker making an impact every day.
Notes: Both books are available on a number of online platforms (including Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Likewise, reach out to your favorite independent bookstore to see if it is in stock as well as requesting they order the books.