As we enter Black History Month this year, we look to examine the past and present and challenge you to look to Black History’s future. You may recognize the names, but take a moment to consider who each person is and what they mean to the black community around you and to the people they represent; past, present, and future.
Figures of the Past
The names you most likely know or have heard in passing. But do you really understand who they were?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many of you may only know him because he gives you a day off work in mid-January. For others, he is the lifeblood of who you are and where you are today. It is the stand that MLK and others like him took that gave blacks a voice when there wasn’t a voice to be heard. It was his dream that gave birth to so many other dreams that are now alive and well in our country. Was it a smooth road? Not at all, but he helped pave the way to enable those dreams to become possible.
Speaking of smooth roads. One man walked into a room, in this case clubhouse, and there were no other black men but himself. That can be quite scary. And speaking of scary, if dealing with bigotry wasn’t enough, Jackie had to deal with grown men throwing a ball at his head at nearly 100MPH. Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play in major league baseball. He was part of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.
Not all historical figures are male. Some notable black heroes are female, like Harriet Tubman. I am sure many of you have heard the Underground Railroad reference. While it isn’t an actual train, Harriet Tubman road on it many times, helping to free slaves from the south to the north. Many times as North as Canada. She risked her life, family, and livelihood to do what she believed was best for blacks; to give them the lives they deserved—a free life.
Figures of the Present
If it weren’t for the lives of black predecessors, the opportunities of the present would not be possible. The success of present black leaders and icons are owed to them.
While the sun is setting on this four-star general, former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and former Secretary of State, he is still a notable figure in black history. He was the first black man to hold both of those positions. He was the son of immigrants, grew up in Harlem, and made his way through school to one of the military’s highest ranks.
Speaking of making his way through the ranks, one man has made his way all the way to the top. Barak Obama was the first black President of the United States. He, too, had an immigrant background; his father was from Kenya. President Obama helped prove that blacks can achieve their dreams and take the next step in their life and careers. President Obama served two terms as President of the United States.
Not only do men make a difference in the world, but notable black women make an immense difference in the world. Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. Not with many people are you able to just mention their first name, and you know who you’re talking about. Oprah has her own talk show, magazine, and website that speaks to the black community.
Figures for the Future
Who knows what the future holds? There are so many black faces across the media right now. The black figures who have been inspired by the list above. Names that have not been mentioned. Names from genre’s not covered. Comedians like Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy. Musicians like Beyonce and Prince. Television figures such as Will Smith and the late Cicely Tyson. Black figures that have made an enormous impact on who blacks are today and where the black community can be in the future. Without any of them, none of those we see on TV, radio, the silver screen, or in politics would be where they are today. Who will be the next black name to make an impact on our history? Who will we be talking about a year from now? Ten years from now? Will it be you?
Isabella Media celebrates the contributions of black Americans in the struggle for equal civil rights and supports our authors of black heritage.