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Black History Month 2021

By: Haanya Quadri

From Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali, African Americans have shaped American history time and time again. Every February, Black History Month allows us an opportunity to sincerely reflect and honor the Black people who helped sculpt America. Morayo Oladipo, President of the Wheaton North Black Student Alliance, says that she makes it a point to remember “really important and incredible people that made a difference and inspire people who look like me and give us the confidence to achieve whatever we want to achieve.”

It is important to remember that the foundations of our country were made possible only through the labor of Black slaves in the early American colonies. These slaves, while setting the stones for American generations to come, had to endure atrocious treatment by their masters. In the following decades, former slaves like Fredrick Douglass published literature that is still noteworthy today, while courageous heroes such as Harriet Tubman saved thousands of people from their inhumane lives as slaves. With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the treatment of Black people was not improved very much, especially in the South; it would take another century for the living conditions of Southern Blacks to progress.

The 20th century brought the emergence of the Civil Rights leaders we often learn about, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. Oladipo remarks that she looks up to Malcolm X in particular because of “how he so actively believed in what he wanted, and although it was a different path, he…spoke so clearly and confidently...He inspires me to be powerful and to feel powerful and speak out.” These role models pushed for social justice for all people, not just African Americans, ensuring the equal rights of immigrants of every color as well as their own progeny. The Civil Rights Movement opened so many doors for people of color, enabling athletes like Jackie Robinson to achieve equal footing with their contemporaries through merit without the consideration of their skin color.

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, Black History Month is even more important this year. Oladipo states, “the movement...really highlighted the injustice and systemic racism that permeates through our country and I think, by highlighting that, it’s easier to continue to have conversations [about racism] and more people are seeking to learn more… and I think that it has really changed how we see black people and people of color in general.” To honor this important month, the BSA is hosting a conversation meeting on February 25th at 2:30 pm to discuss Black history and what it means to Wheaton North Students, as well as its impacts and how we can move forward. The focus will be on the significance of Black History Month, its significance then versus now, and how to continue making changes to elevate equality in America.

You can check out more information about Black history in the trophy cases in the hallway between the counselors' office and the auditorium. It is critical for us, as students, to educate ourselves about the injustices Black people faced, and continue to face, on a daily basis. “Black history is America’s history,” says Oladipo, “and Black people have contributed so much to not only America’s history but history all over the world, and it is really important to remember that and recognize the impacts of their influence.” If we continue to educate ourselves and others about the crucial issue of systemic racism, perhaps our generation will go down in history as the one that ends it for good.

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