This post is from the perspective of Nathan Duguid, a member of the Class of 2023-24 Rising Leaders Initiative at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
At the heart of the question, “What does Black History Month mean to you?” lies a commonly shared perspective that defines the month as a celebration of our history. I argue Black History Month should go beyond being seen as a one-month opportunity, as that implies there was no opportunity to learn about Black history in the other eleven months of the year (which is a problem in and of itself). We must recognize ourselves as the stewards of Black history education throughout the entire year.
Black history is American history, and a single month can’t capture its profound richness. The effectiveness of Black History Month lies not in the month itself but in the power and purpose we, as a nation, invest in it. Instead of giving power solely to the month, our collective responsibility should be to empower ourselves as individuals to champion truth and act as agents of change consistently, every day of the year.
Our education systems should incorporate comprehensive and accurate Black history to ensure students grow up with a nuanced understanding of the diverse contributions and struggles that shape our shared history.
Education is a powerful tool for dismantling ignorance and fostering understanding. It is imperative that we, as individuals, take responsibility for educating ourselves and others about the truths that may have been obscured or omitted from conventional narratives. We must actively seek out diverse perspectives, engage in uncomfortable conversations, and challenge the narratives that perpetuate stereotypes and misrepresentations. Truth should not be confined to a specific time frame; it should be an ongoing commitment.
Black history is not only about acknowledging the past; it’s about addressing the present and shaping the future. As active agents of change, we must confront the institutions built on hard and devastating histories. It requires dismantling systemic inequalities, advocating for justice, and supporting policies that promote equity. Changing implicit biases and mindsets requires introspection, dialogue, and a commitment to unlearning harmful beliefs. We must be courageous in challenging the status quo and actively working towards a more inclusive and just society.
Black History Month serves as a reminder, but it should not be the sole catalyst for action. We must integrate the pursuit of truth and the commitment to change into our daily lives, making it a year-round endeavor. Only through consistent effort can we ensure that the richness of Black history becomes an intrinsic part of our collective consciousness and that the ideals of justice and equality are upheld every day of the year, 24/7/365.
Nathan Duguid is a member of the Class of 2023-24 Rising Leaders Initiative at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and a senior at Great Oaks Legacy Charter School in New Jersey.