Today is the last day of February and the last day of Black History Month. We need to remember those individuals of the African-American community that contributed to the history of the United States and their enduring legacies. We also need to acknowledge their modern contemporaries because they are leading the way to the future; their stories must be heard.
Within the past decade, there were famous African-American films that showed how being black in America is really like and other topics that goes along with it. Films like Get Out, BlacKkKlansman, Moonlight, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, 12 Years a Slave and Hidden Figures reveal social issues that are still relevant as they were when the stories behind the films mentioned above took place.
Besides the world of pop culture and cinema, there are many unsung heroes whose stories are either yet-to-be-revealed or are finally being brought to light. For example, Robert Abbott was the founder of The Chicago Defender. The Defender is a black newspaper founded in 1905 and provided a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves; it became one of the most important black newspapers in history. Another example is Ella Baker was a civil rights activist that was the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement. Not only that, Baker fought for gender equality as well.
We also should not forget the efforts of Dr. CHarles Drew, who was the first African-American who earned his doctorate from Columbia University in 1940. He was the world’s leading authority on blood transfusions, storage and the significance of how plasma works during WW2. His establishment of how blood collections work (refrigeration, selection, testing methods) are still being practiced and improved on to this day.
Lastly, we need to talk about the co-founder of the NAACP, journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells. She brought the world’s attention to how black people were still being lynched during Post-Reconstruction America; she also brought to light American barbarism in a time where people lived in denialism. Black men criticized her for her “unladylike” behavior at the time but Wells was way ahead of her time: the atrocities of WW2, the Civil Rights Movement, police violence against minorities and the Black Lives Matter Movement are examples of how her methods of combating denialism work just by merely telling the truth in spite of facing death threats.
While today is the last day of Black History Month and the first day of Carnival, it’s a friendly reminder to remember those who did so much for their community and be remembered for their efforts. On a side note, since it’s Brazil’s first day of Carnival, look up Xica da Silva and see what she did in Brazilian history.