Black History Month 2021
"Paving the Path Before Us, We Forge Ahead in Confidence, Remembering Where We've Been."
The College of Arts & Sciences honors Black History Month by sharing the voices of our students, faculty and staff. These voices honor the Black heroes of our past, celebrate the activists of today, and anticipate a more inclusive and equitable future.
Reflections from Alyssa Pleasant
"Black History Month is without question one of the most important months of the year, not just for Black people but for everyone in this country. For me, this month is one of the best months to look back on all the beautiful things we've accomplished and contributed to this country over the years and to reflect and understand the foundations the people before us laid. Most importantly this month is a reminder to be genuinely proud of my race because for centuries it was once taught to be ashamed of. However, even though Black History Month shines a light on all the progress that has been made for African-Americans since slavery, segregation, and civil rights,it, unfortunately, shows how much progress is still left to be made in order for Black people to be fully equal in this country. As a person passionate about our justice system who hopes to become a lawyer in the future, I feel as if this area is an example of where racial problems, injustice, and anunproportionate amountof African-Americans are represented. Currently, only 5% of lawyers are Black, while a majority of people incarcerated are Black as well because of long routed racial bias and misrepresentation in our court system. Thus, Black History Month makes our voices louder to discuss issues such as these, and many more problems facing our community today. But these issues should continue to be discussed past February 28th in order to see real progress within our community. All things considered, Black History Month represents honor, culture, progress, strength, achievement, and possibilities."
Reflections from Victoria Ukoh
"It is no secret that Black people in America have laid a solid foundation to be built upon. Often this is swept under the rug and we fail to accredit them. But for one month out of the year, we are given the opportunity to come together as one to reflect and celebrate those that paved a way for us. It would be unfair to disregard the progress we have made as a society, but naïve to believe we are anywhere where we need to be. Truthfully, one month is not enough. It is an everyday effort to celebrate Black lives before they are turned into a hashtag. We must make the conscious effort to promote policies that uphold the wellbeing of Black people in its entirety. That means working to dismantle the healthcare and legal systems that prey upon Black lives, as well as supporting Black students with proper mentorships and resources to higher education. This month let us continue to honor and support our Black inventors, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, activists, and families. We have the potential to live in a society where justice can prevail and flourish, but it starts with you. Black History Month does not have to be only about what was, but rather it is a reminder for us to continue the legacy of those before us and strive for a better America."
Political Science Major
Reflections from Dr. Debra Lavender-Bratcher
"Welcome to my world,
"It is during this month that we come together to celebrate Black History. This is the world of my Black ancestry. I ask you to look at our Black history and see the mighty, strong Black people who were and are educators, inventors, artists, explorers, and scientists. Meet my mentors who have instilled excellence, courage, and resilience. Examine our history, Black History, so that you can see where we have been, where we are in the present, and our goals and aspirations as to where we will be in the future. Beyond the 28-day month, commit to let the journey continue as we build relationships based on reciprocity. I ask you to take eight minutes out of each day to erase racism found in microaggressions, those thousand cuts leading to the death of body, soul, and spirit. Be willing to listen to the stories despite how painful they may be and be willing to seek solutions. Find 46 seconds to take a deep breath of thanks and gratitude."
—Dr. Debra Lavender-Bratcher, LCSW
Assistant Professor of Practice
Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work
Reflections from Valerie Duvall
"As we come to the time where we celebrate Black History Month and recognize the accomplishments African-American culture has contributed to shaping our American culture, in fact, they have help enhance the music and arts, literature and sports, business and politics; and we cannot help, but to look upon and recognize some of the greats who left their mark on history. We see some greats like Ida B. Wells, a journalist, abolitionist, and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the 1890s and went on to deliver a riveting speech entitled "Lynching; Our National Crime." This speech focused on the crime of lynching and why the perpetrators continued to go on without any punishment. Someone once said the problem with the 20th century is the problem with color. Often in history, people of color were not recognized for their accomplishments, but thanks to those who got the word out about the contributions African-Americans made in American history.
"The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, captivated a massive Washington, D.C., crowd in 1963 with his still-remembered and quoted-by-many "I Have a Dream" speech. This speech is always connected to the statement of many: "I had a dream," or the word, dreaming. Dr. King made many inroads toward equality for all men in our society and nation. He was so influential until some felt his voice needed to be silenced, so they set out to silence his voice even to the point of death. I can say a lot of what we experience in our day is partially attributed to his hard and selfless work and sacrifice. In fact, in the preamble it states, in order for us to have a more perfect union we must establish a constitution that allows for that to happen and follow it to the letter. Although I just mentioned a few contributors to American Black History, there are yet countless more who played major roles. In fact, Joseph C. Price, founder and president of North Carolina's Livingston College, said it best during his address to the National Education Association's annual convention, held in Minneapolis in 1890: He said, "If I had a thousand tongues, and each tongue were a thousand thunderbolts, and each thunderbolt had a thousand voices, I would use them all today to help you understand a loyal and misrepresented and misjudged people."
"So, in closing, the celebration of African-American history may not mean much to some, but it holds a very special part in the hearts of Blacks all over, as well as for some others."
Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work
Reflections from Taru Baharadwaj
"Black History Month is undoubtedly a crucial part of the year; to me, it means acknowledging the plight and journey of Black Americans, while also empowering them. I see a lack of representation of POC in business, media, and entertainment, so I love that this month strives to give voice to Black creators, artists, scholars, and business people, while educating everyone about African American History. Furthermore, I am passionate about global health and find that sometimes racial problems and discriminations continue to permeate the medical world, both consciously and unconsciously. Thus, Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to discuss such complex issues and check the implicit bias of our communities. However, Black History Month is also a salient reminder that we have a lengthy path ahead of us; the fact that we need this month at all speaks to the current need for bettering our country. We must not stop this dialogue on March 1st; instead, we need to keep this attitude for the entire year, every year, and this will be what eventually propels us into a world that is more inclusive and equitable."
B.S. Microbiology, December 2020
Reflections from Chioma Ogbata
Black History Month is such a great time to reflect over the impact made on the U.S. by so many amazing African-American people. History has shown just how much lack of celebration and acknowledgment of the great achievements African-Americans have made. History makers such as those widely recognized like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, to those not so widely discussed like Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and Annie Lee Cooper, who protected voting rights, deserve great recognition. I find their acts admirable as they progressed us as a nation. We continuously work to encourage equity, but to minimal avail. Although it is a joyous time, Black History Month also serves as a reminder of just how much more work still needs to be done. It's an unfortunate reality that individuals still face and are challenged by much racial discrimination and injustice. Truly, a month is not enough to showcase the many contributions African-American people have made. We should strive to not isolate Black History to solely this month of February, but to understand it is indeed a great part of the whole American history.
Master of Public Health Candidate 2021
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Texas Tech University Health Science Center