This is the first Black History Month in a while when I was not responsible for putting something out in a work environment. Not that I minded necessarily, but I can actually relax and contemplate fully what I would like to say.
Black History Month is often misunderstood and vilified. Over the years, I've heard people proclaim its irrelevance, or the fact that somehow "we got stuck with the shortest month of the year." As one who believes that African American history has to be integrated into the broader American historical narrative, I still believe that there is a place for these extra curricular highlights. As was the case when Carter G. Woodson created "Black History Week," too few people of all stripes remain unfamiliar with the significant role the American black has played in American history.
I will, over the course of the month, post various stories related to black history, beginning today.
One of my favorite poets is Langston Hughes. To me, many of Hughes' poems express a need to belong, whether it was to his country or his people. He seemed to postion himself as the outsider looking in (I am sure his not being straight heightened that). But through his words, he articulated the longings of a people who had been here since the beginning. And here we are in 2009. A self identified black man is the leader of the free world. Another black man has been selected to be the leader of the other major American political party. Black folks have moved leaps and bounds, and we're finally able to sit a lot more comfortably at the American table. Please take some time to enjoy the poetry of Langston Hughes, in his own words. Today would have been his 107th birthday.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"