Black History will be observed and celebrated this month. There are several reasons why there should be a separate observance, for examining the history of Black Americans in our Nation.
Europeans who migrated to America came in search of freedom and a better life. African Americans, by contrast, were brought to America after their freedom had been taken from them.
This year marks the 400th anniversary that 20 or more Negroes were brought to Jamestown in 1619, resulting in the beginning of “institutionalized slavery,” or what one historian has called the “House of Bondage.”
Even though, the Black man was restricted in what he could contribute because of slavery; his contributions to the nation are of value and deserve recognition and study.
During the American Revolutionary War, 5,000 Black Americans served. One of the first casualties in the battle for American independence was Crispus Attacks, a Black man killed by British troops in Boston.
During the American Civil War, 181,000 African Americans served in the federal army. They have since contributed or fought in every major American conflict. Further, their contributions in every arena of American life are of value and deserve recognition.
On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, taking the first step towards abolishing slavery. In 1865, with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution slavery was abolished in America, forever. Since that time, Blacks, through hard work and dedication have made immense gains.
Today, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination remain for Black and other minorities; however, the majority of Americans have accepted the Black man and others as equals.
By examining the rich heritage of Black history, which in reality is an integral part of the overall history of American civilization, we can all broaden our understanding of one another and bring “unity” to the Nation.
Finally, the study of Black history, in the final analysis, is a study of American history, for in the march of the American Republic towards equality, the (Blacks) and other minorities have been present, helping to shape each event.
If our Nation is to remain a bastion of freedom and liberty, we must all treat one another as equals-and respect the dignity of all minority groups in our Nation.
-John A. Micklos, Essex