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CHRIS MOORE — Black History is more than the past

Carter G. Woodson began Black History Month in 1915. Carter was a Black American, who got the idea while attending the celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation.

Today, schools tend to use the month to educate students of the civil rights movement and a small portion of the figures that played major roles in the fight for equality, because of course we can fit all of that history into the shortest month of the year only using school days.

When the schools teach about Black history, the heroes have names even though they often use the names of the people who have died. It is easy to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X because they are no longer speaking or writing. Anyone can take portions of their messages and distort them to fit their motives.

Perhaps just as important, those who opposed them are largely faceless and nameless in history. It is convenient. It allows us to side with those who we know were doing the right thing and have no ownership over those who weren’t.

If we truly looked at those who opposed civil rights, or any progress for that matter, throughout American history, we would be able to draw a fairly straight line to today.

We also tend to talk about Black history as something that is only for Black Americans or only benefitted them. Take Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball for example.

All of the players wear Robinson’s iconic No. 42. However, journalists often only ask the Black players what that day and that legend means to them. We don’t ask the White players how they benefitted from the league allowing Robinson to join the Dodgers. How have their lives been enriched by having Black teammates? What have they learned or what have they been able to experience that they would have not otherwise?

Enter Port Neches-Groves High School. This month, the school unveiled a series of short videos every day featuring one student per episode speaking about an influential Black American.

The videos have featured students talking about Barrack Obama, Kobe Bryant, Malcolm X, A.J. Andrews and Denzel Washington. The videos can be found on the NDN Press’ YouTube channel.

While all of the initial students that have been featured have been Black, Greg Picasso, who is the film teacher at PNG, said there are several students of other races who are scheduled to participate, which is important.

If we only ask Black students what Black history means to them, we are effectively saying schools with no black students need not learn about it at all. Black history is American history and impacts us all.

Chris Moore is the sports editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.