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Arts & Culture
A series of personal essays from community leaders in Stark County on the relevance of Black History Month in 2021.

Black History Today

Black History Month is 28 days of intentionally speaking to the consciousness of America about Black accomplishments and achievements throughout this nation’s history. A history that needs reminded that Black history must be fully included in the tapestry of the United States of America. The varied and significant contributions made by Blacks are woven into the fabric of a society making said tapestry more diverse, interesting and complete, but not necessarily celebrated.

The need for this celebration was first addressed by Carter G. Woodson, who created Negro History Week in 1926. February was chosen to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The observance was extended to include the entire month of February in 1976.

African Americans have played major roles in exposing fundamental truths about freedom and justice for all while enduring injustice with a perpetual strength and lasting endurance, like a good pair of Levi's: worn, torn, better with age, and still in style.

Black history will never go out of style; it will forever be relevant.

I asked a colleague, Pastor Gary Martin of True Light Christian Ministries, about Black history month and if it was important. He responded by saying, “If history was told we wouldn’t need Black History Month.”

Hector McDaniel
Hector McDaniel
Hector McDaniel

The lack of Black history being taught as a central core element of history within the institution of education, primarily kindergarten through 12th grade, gives valuable credence to utilizing Black History Month as a venue for raising the importance of Black people vesting their time, talent and lives to a legacy of strength, courage and persistence, like those Levi's – battered, beaten, worn and torn.

This society has purposely left Black history out of America’s story, all the while capitalizing on the lives of those who gave their best to a nation who gave its worst.

Black people’s accomplishments and gains are larger than 28 days and transcend far beyond Black History Month. Their resolve, tenacity and unbreakable spirit has been and continues to push this nation towards justice, despite overwhelming odds.

Highlighting past accomplishments and achievements forever remain beneficial; however, our continued need to sew new threads into the fabric of our society means we must be diligent about weaving future Black generations into the tapestry, paving ways for them to make history.

Black history in Canton looks like Kyle Stone, the first African American elected Prosecutor in Stark County.

Black history is 365 days a year. The history of African Americans belongs to all Americans; their achievements and accomplishments are gifts to mankind.

Hector McDaniel is the newest elected President of the Stark County NAACP as of this year.

Our thanks to Ron Ponder for his work on this project. This op-ed was originally created for and published by the Canton Rep.