Black History Month collides with the idea of the Great American Melting Pot.
Black History Month isn’t necessary but the contributions of black Americans, as well as some other ethnic groups, for decades were not included in history books. We welcome the reminder that there is more to history than the stuff that makes its way into textbooks.
How many Johnson Countians are familiar with Merriam’s South Park School, or Corinthian Nutter, whose walkout, and consequent lawsuit, predates the landmark Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education desegregation case by several years? Or Jeremiah McCanse, a black school board member in the Spring Hill School District at the turn of the century? Or the Exodusters, 9th US Calvary or Nick Chiles, black Topeka newspaper owner who bailed temperance movement leader Carrie Nation out of jail?
For many years it was illegal for black Americans to learn to read or write – often under penalty of death. For this reason, because much of their history was oral, and history is often written by the victors, many of their contributions were omitted.
Black American history should have been, and should always be, included in America’s history. The history of Chinese and Irish Americans who helped build the country’s infrastructure – railroads, or the history of Latin Americans, who originally settled, and sometimes owned, much of the current United States.
One of the deepest wounds in America’s great history was the institution of slavery. And remembering those dark hours can be uncomfortable. Discussing race is uncomfortable. In fact, it makes some people angry.
Should there be a Black History Month?
Probably not, because it is divisive. We should tell history as it happened, recognizing all of the people who made America the great nation that it is.