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“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight...” so goes the song that young children sing in their churches.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery used similar words, but in a disparaging way during his speech at President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
But those words are appropriate during Black History Month. Appropriate because Black History Month calls attention to the accomplishments by blacks that was long overlooked in traditional history books.
Black History Month actually began as Negro History Week in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson. Yet, in the last few years there has been an annual debate about the need for such a month. And if there ever was a compelling reason to do away with a specific month, this year should be a good example, with the election of President Obama.
There is an argument that keeping a separate month for black history actually segregates it from American history.
There is no denying the atrocities that blacks have borne through the centuries. But a lot has changed since the days of Kessie, the slave girl portrayed by Lancaster’s own Kitty Wilson-Evans.
Consider the progress made since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made in his “I have a dream” speech just 41 years ago.
There is evidence of mending relationships. Across the nation, whites are apologizing to blacks for their part in civil rights harassments during the volatile ’60s. One classic example is just across the Catawba River in Rock Hill. Elwin Wilson apologized to U.S. Rep. John Lewis D-Ga. for assaulting a young Lewis in 1961 as he and other blacks tried to enter the whites-only waiting room at the Rock Hill bus station. Their story was aired recently on “Good Morning America.”
Does that mean relations are perfect? Of course not.
Indians, Hispanics, Asians and other races have also suffered hardships because of their skin color. Yet, people of all races have made significant contributions in life. But their historical contributions don’t need to be segregated by their own month.
Instead, the accomplishments of all races should be noted in our history books.
It has been said that a quality education levels the playing field for all of us. Ironically, right now the economy is the equalizer because so many of us – red and yellow, black and white – are jobless and struggling to find work.
Suddenly color doesn’t matter when we all are seeking the same goal – the ability to provide for ourselves and our families.
Apply that same philosophy to history books. Record accomplishments based on merit – not the color of skin. When that happens, then there will be no need for a Black History Month. Nor a White History Month. Nor a Red History Month. Nor a Yellow History Month.