Why Black History Matters: An Ambassador Roundtable Discussion
Why is there still a need for Black History Month? Our panel of experts listed the continuing removal of black contributions from American history, America’s fear of black men, and the whitewashing of Detroit as just a few reasons.
Originally Published in Ambassador Magazine
Written by J. NadirOmowale
Photos by Andrew Potter
The January/February 2015 Ambassador Magazine Roundtable convened at a pivotal moment in American history – and in the history of Detroit. As we gathered to discuss the importance of African American History Month with an esteemed group of historians and scholars, race occupied the center of our national conversation.
The public erupted into spontaneous protest after a series of high-profile killings of African American men and boys by police, highlighting the longstanding American tradition of police violence against the black community. And instead of ushering in a post-racial era in America, racial tensions were intensified and will forever color the legacy of Barack Obama – the country’s first African American president. Hashtags and slogans like #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe and #WhitePrivilege peppered social media and the nation’s consciousness.
Closer to home, as a resurgent Detroit emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history – forever the phoenix shaking off the ashes – questions and accusations surrounded the complexion of the city’s latest renaissance. Was there room in the whiter, more affluent “New Detroit” for the city’s majority population of working-class African Americans?
If there were two things learned in the boardroom at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, one was that history is about more than assorted dates and facts. Understanding the historical context of an event is often as important as the study of the event itself. The second was that, often, the histories that are excluded from our textbooks give a more accurate representation of what really happened. Continue reading