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Black History Month puts a spotlight on great Americans

Whites might see racism, but don't necessarily feel

Whites might see racism, but don't necessarily feel it. Credit: iStock

Each year, I use the month of February to learn more about the great accomplishments of African-Americans.

Of course, in grade school, many of us learned about the triumphs and important lives of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., slave emancipator Harriett Tubman, courageous NAACP member Rosa Parks, and Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.

This month and the rest of this year, let's expand our knowledge of great African-Americans who have broadly contributed to strengthening this country.

Black History Month was launched as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, the son of a slave, a PhD from Harvard, and a man who dedicated his life to educating African-Americans about their history. The month of February was later chosen as a way to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both born in February.

As many can attest, the last two years were trying ones for African-Americans. We have seen sections of the Voting Rights Act invalidated. We have also witnessed lopsided and sometimes completely baffling applications of justice. Therefore, this February, a celebration of the strength, courage and collective community of people of African descent seems more important than ever.

We must remember that black history is also American history. Therefore, it's imperative that we all find ways to celebrate the accomplishments and triumphs of African-Americans past and present. In addition to learning more about people like Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois, author and poet Maya Angelou, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche, I also want to find people who are creating black history here in NYC.

I've begun to celebrate the successes of people of African descent from around the world. For me, black history has become a global celebration and a way to connect with the diverse groups of people of African descent living in New York City.

So, happy Black History Month, New York. May you learn about a new hero or discover one in your own neighborhood.

Christina Greer is an assistant professor at Fordham University and the author of "Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream."

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