Mariska VanLinder-Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- February is Black History Month.
Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson. He founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The organization was created to promote studying black history and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans.
The ASALH launched a “Negro History Week” in 1926 to bring attention to his mission and help school systems coordinate their focus on the topic. The celebration and studies spread quickly, but the idea of expanding the week celebration into a month didn’t come until decades later.
President Gerald Ford made African American History Month a national observance in 1976.
As an African-American Manatee County School Board Member James Golden has special a special appreciation for Black History Month and its importance.
Mustangs Ahead (MA)- Why is Black History month important for us to recognize and celebrate?
James Golden (JG) – Black History Month is important to recognize and commemorate because it allows all parts of the community to focus at one time on what is undeniably an important, but often overlooked, part of the history of the entire community.
MA: Why do you think it is important for people to learn about Black History Month?
JG: I think that all history is valuable to anyone who is willing to use it for the betterment of the entire community. Any community that does not know its history will keep making the same mistakes it has failed to remember from its history.
MA- Is it important to you that students are educated on the importance of Black History Month? If so why?
JG– It is important to me as a member of the Manatee County School Board that my decisions reflect the will of those whom I was elected to represent. I believe that most of the community believes that our best days are in our future and that my decisions as a school board member ought to reflect my best efforts to take us to that future.
My desire is not to make America great again but to make America greater than it has ever been because we will not repeat the mistakes of our history. Though the future will have its own challenges, they will be overcome by our community commitment to a shared history as we move forward toward it.
MA- Is Black History Month particularly important in the school systems of Manatee County?
JG– Black History Month is particularly important in the school system because the schools of a community reflect what is important to that community. If we neglect to study the history of a particular segment of a community, then we are by omission saying that segment is not important.
I believe that the Manatee County school system serves a community that believes all segments are important.
MA- Do you think students should be educated more on Black History Month?
JG– I think that all Manatee County students could only benefit from any expansion of the current public school history curriculum that provide for more Black History education beyond the month of February.
MA- What does Black History Month mean to you?
JG– First, Black History Month affords me the opportunity to dispel myths about, confront ignorance of, and challenge bias towards Black people.
Second, it affords me the opportunity to share wherever, whenever, and with whomever I can, the journey of Africans across the Middle Passage, to this land where we have survived and overcome dehumanization, slavery, lynching, economic disparity, political marginalization, social separation, legal intimidation, and educational segregation.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it affords me the opportunity to lift up the contributions of all those persons, black, brown, and white, rich, middle-class and poor, Northern, Western, and Southern, city dwellers, suburbanites, and rural country, Americans all, who gave their blood, sweat, and tears, and in some cases their very lives, to help this country live up to its creed of one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.