Every February marks the 29 days of Black History Month. There has been a long-standing dispute over whether or not the idea of Black History Month promotes celebration of diversity or further segregation of races. Freshman Zik Wamppah explains his take on Black History Month and why he believes it is necessary for all to pay attention to.
Wamppah, although born in the United States, comes from a lengthy lineage of family from Nigeria. Wamppah said he still honors his culture with his immediate family today.
“My family and I will get together and have summer parties like Nigerian [people] gather,” Wamppah said. “We have a group of Nigerians here in Kansas that we like to get together with to celebrate holidays.”
Wamppah said this community of people and tradition has helped keep him aware of his Nigerian roots and is also why we must continue to bring up Black History Month.
“We can’t let ourselves forget this,” Wamppah said. “This is our history — it is too important.”
Wamppah said Black History Month is not just a couple calendar weeks and should not be seen in a negative light.
“This month is such a positive thing,” Wamppah said. “It doesn’t matter that it is a separate month. We are still remembering.”
Wamppah said specific political faces are often associated with Black History Month, but Africans in every way of life fought for equal opportunity just the same.
“We remember the leaders, but what about other Africans?” Wamppah said. “For example, Jackie Robinson. He was the first African American to play [major league] baseball. Without him, no African American or any other minority race could ever play baseball. That still makes him a leader for our people.”
Wamppah said we must continue to cherish this special month, as it affects and shapes the lives of everyone.
“I know people take Black History Month seriously,” Wamppah said. “They have to. African American leaders, like Jackie Robinson and others, are [continuing to change] our world.”
QUICK FACTS: BLACK HISTORY MONTH
-Black History Month was started in 1926, originally named Negro History Week.
-It was planned for February to line up with Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays
-Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was partly improvised.
-Carter G. Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History”
AFRICAN AMERICAN FIRSTS
-Newspaper: “Freedom’s Journal” — 1827
-State elected official: Alexander Twilight — 1836
-Woman to graduate college: Lucy Stanton — 1850
-U.S. Senator: Hiram Revels — 1870
-Olympic Medalist: George Paoge — 1904
-General: Benjamin Davis — 1940
-Federal Judge: William Hastie — 1946
-Astronaut: Robert Lawrence — 1967
-Billionaire: Robert Johnson — 2001
-President: Barack Obama — 2008