February kicks off Black History Month. Too often this month is treated as a “black thing.” However, unlike the popular 80s slogan, “it’s a black thing you won’t understand,” all Americans need to understand. I am proud to be an American and extremely proud of my African-American heritage. African-American contributions to this wonderful country extend beyond sports and music into every facet of American life (politics, law, medicine, inventors, explorers, fashion, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists).
The “real” McCoy was Elijah McCoy and check out Garrett Morgan while you’re at it – another inventor. If you ever had open heart surgery, thank Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. Look up Vivien T. Thomas and Dr. Charles Drew for other pioneers in medicine. Research Matthew Henson.
I love the diversity within the African-American community. Contrary to popular stereotypes, we don’t all think or act the same. There is no “one” voice of the African-American people. We are as opinionated and varied as our skin complexion – as beautiful as it is. “It seems to me said Booker T, but I don’t agree said WEB.” Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King, Jr. represented different viewpoints of the community. Our political leanings span the spectrum from conservative to liberal. For some, Tyler Perry’s Madea speaks to them, for others their upbringing resembled “The Cosby Show” and for some “Good Times.” We come from every socioeconomic level – poor, blue collar, working class, middle class, upper class, rich and wealthy. Some have tried to label me as a bourgeois African-American. However, I’m the daughter of a carpenter that happened to be fortunate to get a good education because of my parents’ sacrifices. I am happy to live in a country of opportunity and have been blessed by those who saw a spark of talent and nurtured my thirst for knowledge.