Black History Month deserves more attention

Photo Courtesy of Ciara Mims.

It’s sort of comic how much effort Americans put into celebrating holidays such as Valentine ’s Day in comparison to celebrating heritage during Black History Month. On Florida A&M University’s campus alone there were more events dedicated to love and relationships this month than events commemorating and celebrating the striking achievements of African-Americans.

According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day spending was expected to exceed $20 billion this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Americans actually did exceed those numbers.

It’s insane that we’d rather spend money celebrating a day of so-called “love.” than to give back to black communities, or to take the time to learn something new about our culture during this month, more than any other month.

We seem to have the time and money to buy flowers, candies, balloons, jewelry, etc., but where is that same energy when it comes to supporting black communities and applauding the remarkable achievements of African-Americans?

Seriously, we should be celebrating. There should have been more cookouts, festivals, and overall events, both social and educational, dedicated to African-American heritage than we could make it to this month. We should be embracing our culture now more than ever because this month is ours.

Doney Eden, a graduating senior and biology major, also noticed how efforts to honor our ancestors seem to have decreased. He noted just how disengaged many students are and offered what he believes is the reason why.

“We know a lot about love so that’s why everyone celebrates Valentine’s day but we don’t know a lot about our culture so that’s why there’s not a lot of energy towards it,” Eden said. “We definitely need to take black culture here at FAMU more serious.”

Eden has a point, I think the reason some African-Americans don’t celebrate their heritage is because they aren’t familiar enough with their heritage to be excited about it. There’s something about familiarity that makes people want to be engaged and involved, so I guess it makes sense.

But, when did we lose sight of our heritage and the desire to honor it? When did a day for lovers become more important?

I remember as a child, my teachers would play “Our Friend, Martin” every year during Black History Month. And, I felt awed every time I watched the film because I enjoyed seeing people who looked like me being the “hero.”

I also remember going to an abundance of Black History Month programs and plays as a child but, I see a lack of initiatives now as a young adult. I can only hope that teachers are still playing “Our Friend, Martin” in their classrooms or have upgraded to the modern, cooler film “Black Panther.” I want children to understand the relevance of Black History Month.

As a student at the illustrious Florida A&M University, I want nothing more than for students, faculty, staff and community members to remember the relevance of Black History Month. I want us to wholeheartedly dive into our history and honor this moment. I don’t rebuke Valentine’s Day or other national holidays, I just believe we should spend less time focusing on those holidays and more time learning and remembering those who’ve paved the way for us.