It’s Feb. 1 and that means two things:
1. It’s the start of Black History Month and
2. Most of us will be brushing up on our MLK quotes and trying to think of someone other than Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass that made significant contributions to our society.
But that’s not because that’s all we know. Our history and our contributions continue to grow and we acknowledge that. But while we are proud and eager to share stories about our rich past, it seems that we’ve been conditioned to repeat the same names.
Sadly, we’ve let Black History Month boil down to a short list of famous African-Americans.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. This year GlobalGrind is redefining what Black History Month means in this new America and how we should redesign it to emcompass so much more.
It’s true you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from, and that’s why these movers and shakers stand on the shoulders of our well known giants. It’s just their time to shine as well.
Here’s some of the new class!
Olajide Williams, MD: He’s known as the Hip Hop doctor and is the Founder and President of Hip Hop Public Health, a recognized national leader in stroke education research. Currently serves as Chief of Staff of Neurology at Columbia University, but he uses his time to teach kids about the importance of staying healthy through the hip hop culture in Harlem. Ben Carson and Ernest Everest Just could learn a thing or two!
Edwidge Danticat: It’s no secret Danticat can turn some words into a harrowing, touching, powerful story, so she’s definitely my choice to hold the torch for those authors that came before her like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. The Haitian-American writer is even involved in recovery efforts in her birthplace and is dedicated to raising awareness about the rich culture. She’s a great example of how Black History Month has changed to include all people of African descent in America, even if they weren’t born here.
Gabby Douglas: Gabby took us all by storm when she became the first African-American woman to win the gold medal in the individual all-around. She was also the first woman of color of any nationality to win the event and the first American gymnast to ever win both the team and individual all-around gold at the SAME Olympics. Gabby isn’t getting passed the torch…she lit it!
Biko Baker: You might not know who he is now…but you better get hip! The Executive Director of the League of Young Voters was a super powerful force in th 2012 election that gave us Barack Obama for a second round. And who said the new generation didn’t have any mobilizers? (Or that they had to be Reverends!)
Issa Rae: Wasn’t expecting Youtube’s “Awkward Black Girl” on the list were you? But Issa Rae, an up-and-coming producer, director and writer, is being smart about social media and using it to her advantage to set the stage for the new wave of black producers in Hollywood…or on the internet. Plus she’s made every black awkward girl feel like they’re not alone…and I don’t think there was anybody before her that made a space for girls like me!
Cory Booker: Now you know we had to put the new Shirley Chisholm in there! Just kidding, but Booker brings a refreshing perspective and energy to Newark as the mayor and he is killing the politics game right now. Everyone’s Super Hero Mayor is even considering running for Senate. I’d say he’s definitely the new class of black politicians that are sure to go down in history.
A few of our submissions for the New Class of Black History Month may have surprised you, but there are so many individuals who are breaking ground in medicine, science, entertainment, arts, sports and politics and there simply isn’t enough room to give them all props.
But there is time! Let’s enjoy the rest of the month by honoring those who came before us, and acknowledging those who are coming after!
Who do you want to add to the New Class of Black History Month?