Black History Month officially became a holiday in the year of 1976. Our nation celebrates the month of February by paying tribute to all that the African American community has accomplished. With the help of social media, I have uncovered facts about my ancestors that are remarkable. They have created inventions, pushed music to new heights and built a culture that influences our present-day society.
With all the outstanding feats African Americans have accomplished and the beautiful commendations made throughout the country, there is a flaw in Black History Month. When we celebrate this holiday, we look only towards the past for accolades. We forget what is happening in the present and what could happen in the future.
It is important for African Americans to remember the past. If our ancestors had not made the sacrifices they did, we would not have the opportunities we do today. We cannot forget the atrocities our ancestors endured, such as slavery, Jim Crow laws and the humiliating representations in media. However, only looking at the past creates a break in our thinking. It becomes impossible to have new ideas. We remain stuck in a “Pastime Paradise,” a phrase coined by the legendary artist Stevie Wonder. What good is it to look to the past if we cannot celebrate what we have accomplished in the present?
In the future, I look forward to living in a country where black people can both celebrate their present-day achievements and commemorate the past. In acknowledging current accomplishments, we as individuals and a community will learn how to better accept and love ourselves. Our ancestors will be proud. I believe in us, and I always will.
Below, is a poem written by Cayden Thompson. Through art, he thanks his ancestors for their sacrifices and celebrates his community’s present-day accomplishments.
Sons of Giants
By Cayden Thompson
Upon the heads of giants, I gaze upon the sun;
The sun that shined upon them. The moon that watched them run;
I watch them both and ponder The mighty deeds of old
That the giants took to get me here To sit atop the world;
Above the clouds, amidst the sky; The stars, the only thing nearby
But how were we born in such a world where even birds fear to fly?
My thoughts collide, in wonder and awe As a question formed within my maw;
Oh giant sweet, oh giant tall Why, upon your head, are we all?
…The world you know, ‘Twas once a dream, One that none could have foreseen
Until one day, my brothers in arms Shared that dream and fled the farms.
When knees buckled and whips cracked, We held that dream, a world abstract
When all was lost, when all was found, When violence was the only sound,
The dream remained, it was of you, A radiant reminder to all those who
endured the suffocating air below, for the promised land their dreams did show;
So while you breathe the sky’s good air, Remember all the gifts you bear;
You are the sons of giants, stand tall and rejoice;
And whatever you do in this world that is, just know that it’s your choice.