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Black History Month must be marked

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Black History Month is celebrated in February in the United States and in Canada and in October in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Ireland.

Carter G. Woodson, an American historian, author, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, started the celebration of “Negro History Week” in February of 1926. Woodson was born Dec. 19, 1875, the son of former slaves who were both illiterate. He was unable to attend school until he was 20 years old and eventually completed his doctorate in history at Harvard University in 1912.

Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society. Because black people did not come voluntarily to our country, it is imperative that we remind ourselves and the world that black history is integrally tied to the United States history.

Negro History Week eventually became Black History Month, which seeks to remind society of all races of the contributions of black Americans to this society.

At Tracy African American Association, we promote and contribute to educational, cultural and social programs and activities that foster awareness, diversity and a cooperative environment that unites the Tracy community. TAAA has been in this community since 1994 and has been hosting a Juneteenth Festival annually for 25 years, and this June will be our Silver Anniversary of this festival.

According to the demographics website of the city of Tracy, there are 86,985 people in the community. Population by race/ethnicity is: white alone, 51.4 percent; black alone, 6.9 percent; American Indian, 0.9 percent; Asian alone, 14.6 percent; Pacific Islander alone, 0.9 percent; some other race alone, 17.0 percent; two or more races, 8.2 percent; Hispanic origin, 39.4 percent.

Being black in these United States is an honor and a testament to people who managed to make it during and through adversity. Even now we rise. Black History Month is a time that many of us reflect on next steps, on how far we have come and how far we have to go. We celebrate in gatherings in church, in parks and in communities to teach our children about their ancestors and to remember that education is the key to move in a direction of achievement.

At West and Tracy high schools, the Black Student Unions are honoring Black History Month by having door contests where the kids decorate a classroom door depicting some image that honors black people. Does Tracy Unified School District recognize this month in all its schools? I don’t know. However, it should if it doesn’t.

Even though we are only 6.9 percent demographically, we all need to be reminded that African ancestors who were brought here and died here did not die in vain.

We are in this community to serve and honor each of our differences and continue respect for the impossible, creating endless possibilities for success. Black History Month is now.

Yolande Barial Knight is the president of the Tracy African American Association and a columnist for the Tracy Press who writes Mother’s Corner each month. 

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