Each February, many Americans pause to pay homage to African-Americans who have made a significant contribution to society. The reflections are important and, whether Stacy Dash thinks so or not, must continue so that at least a modicum of recognition is bestowed upon citizens of this country who were instrumental to its existence.
One vital function of Black History Month has more to do with the present. Revisiting our history in order to pay much deserved respect is important, but should not be our only intention. We must revisit history in order to better inform our present and future. We should revisit history to tap into and borrow the energy of our ancestors’ resilience, creativity and brilliance to use as fuel for achieving our dreams and goals.
In an effort to demonstrate how historical figures play a powerful role in the success of today’s blacks who are making their own mark, we are shining a spotlight on a few in our community by identifying the historical figure for which their actions are most reminiscent. Felecia Hatcher, for example, brings to mind Madame C.J. Walker with her embrace of entrepreneurism, vast creativity and staunch support of the black community. Hatcher has made, and is continuing to make, gigantic strides in entrepreneurism and technology, employing a no-holds-barred approach to venturing into a variety of intriguing endeavors. Like Walker, her desire to succeed is bolstered
by her genuine desire to see her people also succeed. We are including our monthly ‘Elevating the Dialogue’ feature in the Black History section because they are a marriage made in heaven.
Marquise McGriff conveys now as Frederick Douglass did then, a deep and sacred love for black people and the desire to see them all free. At the tender age of 20, McGriff is evolving into a man whose actions speak loudly of his allegiance to and love of his people. As the founder of Club 1964, McGriff’s deep affinity for blacks oozes easily as he speaks of the importance of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and why discussions regarding their relevance should be moot. He’s already been honored by the White House and is coordinating a major conference at Florida Memorial University, where he is a student.
We are also taking a moment to say ‘thank-you’ to two local legends in the black community whose work may not have garnered national prominence; however, their impact on the lives of black South Floridians is no less significant. Rev. Edward T. Graham in Miami-Dade and Dr. Von D. Mizell in Broward both voiced courageous ideals and more importantly, took action to assure their implementation. Graham’s grandson, Richard W. Harris Jr. contributed to this section with a poignant remembrance of his grandfather and Dr. Mizell.
As you celebrate Black History Month, begin to conduct your own comparisons. Who does that young person in your life of whom you are so proud remind you of? Do you have a young Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells or Nina Simone in your midst? If so, tell them and together, research the historical figure, carefully pointing out what they and this special person in your life have in common. It’s a wonderful way to bring Black History to life for our children.