Tue, 02/25/2014 - 12:50 — Pauline Neckles

African Heritage... All Year Round

This month is celebrated as Black History Month in some quarters and African Heritage Month in others. As we sit contemplating the significance of these celebrations, it is our belief that as a people this celebration though official for a month should be reinforced year round.

Josephine Baker

Legendary performer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker

The impact that Africans and people of African descent have made on all aspects of life – from politics to civil rights as well as technology and science – throughout history should not be confined to one month and then forgotten for the other 11 months.

This belief made us think how we as individuals can maintain awareness of Africans and their descendants and the significant contributions they have made to society even outside of the official month of its celebration.

Shirley Chisholm

Barbadian American groundbreaking politican Shirley Chisholm

  1. Educate yourself – Become aware of the African history as it evolved from the beginning of time and continues to progress to current times. This will allow you to have a perspective of Africa before the Transatlantic Slave Trade and since that time and how Africans and their descendants contributed to the prosperity of many nations. This is a continuous process of reading, researching and investigating that will capture your interest way beyond February 28th.

  2. Keep abreast of current affairs – Keep informed of the current state of the African continent. If you want to maintain African Heritage Month all year long, ensure that you know what their current state is politically, economically etc. It may surprise you what great things are occurring there that are not necessarily highlighted in mainstream media.

  3. Know your heroes – Martin Luther King Jr and Marcus Garvey along with Malcolm X are lifelong heroes of mine for their stance and love for their people and the fight they undertook. But the more I learn about Africans and their descendants, the more I find people to respect and honour for their contributions. This includes people serving in all aspects of society whether entertainment, politics, education or business. For example, Josephine Baker in entertainment, Paul Bogle in religion/activism and Shirley Chisholm in politics have become great examples for me in terms of making strong contributions in the direction of their art forms, sectors and areas of society not only for the black race but for society in general.

  4. Be a hero – Live a life that future generations can look to and respect in much the way you look to your heroes. I believe that while we are very much the beneficiaries of the hard work of these people, it is up to us to live up to the standard they set. Living up to that standard is more than a month long endeavour but one that would indeed take our entire lives in some cases.

We hope that your awareness of black history and the African influence on history is not only positive in one month of the year but that it grows stronger as we learn more and become more aware of African contributions.

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