By ISHEKA N. HARRISON
I am the daughter of immigrants – and unless you are a purebred Native American, so are you. Whether your ancestors came to America voluntarily or not may be up for debate, but let us not forget this fundamental fact of history.
Immigrants, especially those hailing from Africa who were forced into slavery, helped build this country; which means Black History is American History. Unfortunately, our stories are ones that are too often forgotten, whitewashed or inaccurately told.
This is why I understood Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s frustration with the lack of knowledge our children have about the brilliance of their culture. “Many of them don’t have a clue,” she said, admonishing parents and churches to take up the mantle to educate our youth about the prominence of their heritage.
Though we all love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commend the sacrifices he made for us, including literally giving his life, he alone is not the sum of our experiences – and our youth should know this.
In this Black History Edition, we want to change that. We don’t want to only focus on our ancestors who paved the way for us, we also want to highlight icons who are still with us that have paved, are paving and will pave the way for future generations.
Whether done through politics, entrepreneurship, sports or media, it is because of these individuals and the black community mobilizing as a whole that America ever prospered in the first place.
How ironic that “The land of the free” was made great by our brave ancestors who were enslaved.
We come from a line of inventors, educators, preachers, politicians, businessmen, doctors, lawyers and more, whom without such, this land of opportunity would not exist.
And even though many of the things we have fought for are being threatened before our very eyes, because of individuals like Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Wilson, Simone Biles, Brian Brackeen, Brianna Luberisse and Beethoven Francois, we still have hope.
We have hope because we are resilient. We have hope because despite years of injustice and oppression, blacks continue to rise above and do extraordinary things. We have hope because the individuals we are high-lighting in this section are only a tiny fraction of a community of dreamers and change makers who won’t relent at making this world a better place.
Remember, Black History is American History, and even if the world at large won’t acknowledge this, I beseech you to never forget it.