Blacks making history right in this community

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 3:20 p.m.
In this month of February, many Americans are celebrating black history. The primary reason for recognizing the works of African Americans during the month of February is to showcase the contributions people of color have made to make this country great.
Also, it is a reminder to the young and the old that these contributions should not be forgotten. The black experience in American culture is woven together like a quilted blanket. The blanket tells a story about American history from the days of the first ships reaching the shores of the new land to the present.
Much of the credit for the celebration is given to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard scholar who was determined to bring black history into the public arena. He devoted his life to making the world recognize African Americans as participants rather than insignificant figures in history.
Throughout American history, particularly after the period of 1619, African-American enslavement became an economic advantage for the white, rich land owners. Especially in southern states, white, rich land owners benefited greatly from the free labor slaves provided.
Blacks were engaged in a host of forced labors to make this country what it is today. Some of the labor included farming, bridge building, railroad construction, road construction, blacksmithing, etc.
Also, there was a period in American culture where many blacks developed new and better ways of providing services to American people. They invented many of the things we use today in modern America. Certainly, African Americans have contributed to this country in many ways.
Even in the field of education, there are examples throughout American history of people of color making tremendous sacrifices.
Also, in the course of American history, African Americans have excelled in sports, the arts and music. One cannot live in this country without having been touched in some way by some portion of the fine arts.
These contributors have placed their palm prints on American culture and enriched the lives of people who stretch across oceans near and far. In other words, the patches are still being woven into the quilted fabric, and the stories continue to be told.
To attempt to mention all the great people of our past would be a disservice to the contributions made. One should not single out a few accomplishments to such an enormous amount of achievements made by black Americans.
Often times, we identify great African Americans in our past history, and in some way, it is interpreted as a measuring stick for our worth. If we look really close, we can find people right in our own communities who are making history daily.
As we draw our attention to nationally famous black Americans who have made great contributions in this country, it would be my desire that every household in Alachua County look at our own local heroes who are impacting the lives of others and making a difference in our own community.
In addition, I would encourage parents of young children to point out role models who live in our own communities so that children can see the positive influences they have on society. Again, I will not attempt to mention names at the risk of leaving out someone who may be deserving of recognition in some way.
If we look at people on our jobs, in our churches, folks who serve on various boards, civic leaders etc., they are all making decisions that improve the quality of our lives.
The echoes of the past history ring in my ear constantly and are embedded in me. These echoes are reminders of the people who made a difference in my life, and role models who shared their experiences and told stories to keep me informed for a better life.
A patch is added to the quilt daily to tell our story, but we must recognize the works of others and celebrate people in our communities who have made contributions.
My hat goes off to people everywhere who extend themselves to improve humanity. I especially take pride in those in our country who contribute to the quilt to guide our youth to understand and respect the history and heritage of African Americans, past and present, who have made a difference and who are making a difference now.
Today's history lesson is to explore the works of others here at home.
Philoron Wright is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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