Sundays are meant for meaningful conversations. Six women of color sat down to speak about what the month of February, Black History Month, truly meant to us. When a new month starts, reflection begins.
As black women, especially black women in college, we never stop and realize the world we are living in today would not be the same without black activists. Many of us wake up every day and strive for the best out of ourselves because we look up to someone that made specific things possible for us.
For Essence Perry, her Black History icon is Michelle Obama. “She is the first black woman to be in the White House,” Perry said. “She created a name for herself. She has a law degree. She inspires a lot of young black women. These are all my reasons why I wake up every day wanting to be a better black woman for my community, because of women like Michelle Obama.’’
Reflecting on my own, this writer couldn’t agree more with Perry.
Then Asyera Clarke reminded us of all the inventions to which black women have contributed. Clarke reminded us that some black women have been given credit for their innovations, while others have not–innovations which include a “number of inventions, like ironing boards, security systems, heaters, [and] rock and roll….” The room sat quietly, as we all contemplated those who had come before.
“I look up to all black entrepreneurs and businesswomen,” said Jalah Oates. “Black women must be surrounded with businesswomen, establishing organization and money skills early on.” It is known that black women have an important role in changing societal norms.
“They create history every day, making something that seems impossible for my community possible for the next black women,’’ continued Oates. Our icons have taken positions in the world that were once seen as out of reach for a black woman.
Regine Winifred is passionate about celebrating Black History. She reminded us that the black community would not be where we are today without being able to stand on the shoulders of those who came before. ”Black history has a huge impact on what we’ve become, to this today,” she said. “It gives us a sense of integrity and pride to become more than our ancestors.”
“Black women have begun movements,” Clarke reminded us. “I know a lot of people know of Rosa Parks, but without her and the people before her that spoke up, a lot of black activists after her would have never begun to stand up for themselves and our people.’’
Keesha Bernardin reminded us, “Even on our hardest days, we need to remind ourselves every day that we would not be able to express ourselves freely. We could not take advantage of our opportunities to be better than a stereotype.’’
Clarke’s message of implementation spoke volumes with the women in the room. Many black women have decided at a young age to stand up for their community. So much of the work they have done has been unrecognized over the years. The black women of the past have made many careers possible for women now, and future opportunities may seem endless thanks to them.
With all of those achievements to celebrate, Bernardin wondered, “Why do we have the shortest month of the year to celebrate the pride of our skin color? Black history needs to be celebrated all the time.”
“I agree with Keesha,” Briana Sutton said. “But on campus this month, I am proud of the many programs that are thrown about black people and our history. I have thrown a program myself on-campus that tested the knowledge of our black community…. We must start on campus because these are the skills we are going to take beyond the college campus.’’
Black people may rightly feel like the odds are stacked against them. We must work harder than our peers to reach the same goals. And that is okay because that is what makes us special. Many of us at American International College are first-generation college students. We may have never thought that attending college was a possibility, yet here we are. The black community on campus needs to remain strong, and we need to remember to constantly lift one another up.