by Donovan Dooley
For many African Americans, the month of February is a time of reflection and celebration. Many look back on the trials and tribulations that have oppressed our people and show their appreciation for the brave men and women who fought to make a better way of life for the next generation.
As an African American kid who grew up in the deep south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and attended a public school, I was well versed on African American History. Figures such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and others have been etched into my brain since third grade.
And rightfully so.
However, for many years the struggle that these courageous pioneers went through was my only perspective on black history. While slavery and the civil rights movement are key components of our story, they are not our whole story. I believe growing up in a majority white public school system for more than 13 years blinded me to that fact.
It wasn’t until I stepped foot onto at an Historically Black College and University, North Carolina A&T to be specific, did I truly realize everything that encompasses our rich history. The second semester of my freshman year I took an African American Studies course that was taught by Professor Joy Thompson.
In that class I learned how my ancestors were far more than slaves and disenfranchised people. I learned that my ancestors were powerful African rulers and dignitaries such as Mansa Musa and Queen Tiye who created some of the richest and most successful societies to ever exist such as the Mali and Kemet.
I learned that my ancestors created the University of Timbuktu, which was the first university ever to be established on the planet.
I learned that my Ancestors engineered their own versions of Wall Street that focused on black owned business in both Durham, North Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I learned many accomplishments of black people. But most importantly, I learned that my ancestors were relevant. They were revolutionaries, they were innovators and they were influential without the presence of oppression.
As a young black boy in elementary school, I never had the same sense of pride in my people as I did sitting in Professor Thompson’s class. I had to wait until I turned 19, until I attended an HBCU to experience this.
“Going to an HBCU has shown me that black history is so diverse, when people think of HBCU’s people think of how they are predominantly black schools which is true but there is just so much diversity in the black community,” said Bradford Brooks a junior Multimedia Journalism and TrueBull.com reporter from Charlotte, North Carolina. “Going to an HBCU has reassured me that our culture and history is so important because without black history there would be no history at all. “
I have always been proud to be black, but the Inspiration and confidence that manifests in your spirit once you attend an HBCU is unmatched. Especially once you begin to learn about the true greatness of your people.
I guess that is what makes black history month at HBCUs so special. By learning how powerful black people are, I learned just how powerful I am.