My perception of Black History Month has been shifting over time as I immerse myself in different contexts.
Growing up in Kenya, I had a vague idea of what Black History Month was because we never celebrated black history on a specific month. Instead, emphasis has always been directed towards the celebration of African culture in general. Every day, our history is passed down from one generation to another through, different cultural practices presented in schools, and celebrated through various traditional events.
Moving to the United States made me realize how important Black History Month is here. Among other things that I have learned is that Black History Month is not only an opportunity to honor Black people from all periods of American History, but to also celebrate their indelible imprint on the world today.
This act of moving through history to celebrate current achievements reminds me of the Sankofa concept. Sankofa is a term used by the Akan people of Ghana and it means “to go back and get it.”
Connecting the past to the present not only helps us to remember, but it also sets the foundation for a redefined future.
In the spirit of Sankofa, I would like to honor the memories of those who went before us, laying down their lives, fighting hard both at the forefront of history and in the background, in order to pave the way for all Black people to embrace culture in a diversified way. I celebrate the rise of pop culture, modern artists, and people in the entertainment industry who promote Black culture as a beautiful thing – the influence is felt and embraced even far beyond American borders. Finally, as a black woman, I hold dearly the thoughts of black women from Africa to the world, who are fighting to give life, to lead, and to make the world a better place for future generations.
Freely in Hope Alumni, Class of 2017
Survivor-Advocacy Communications Specialist