As a Nigerian-Brit, American Black History is something that I came to know about later in life. I was familiar with Nigerian history and I had gone through the extensive history of Tudor-Stuart Britain in school in England, but American History was a brand new landscape.
I lived in the US for quite a few years, and it was really towards the end of High School and in university that I gained an appreciation for African American history. I remember having to choose a decade and theme to focus on for my high school senior year project, and I chose the 1920's and the Harlem Renaissance. My mind was absolutely blown. I learned about amazingly talented artists, writers, musicians like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, WEB Dubois, Ethel Waters and Duke Ellington to name a few.
Ethel Waters - American Singer & Actress
In university, I remember an African American friend telling me she wished she had a history like mine, and I completely sympathise with what she was expressing, but I also wondered how she hadn’t internalised how amazing her history is. As I’ve thought about that conversation over the years, I have such a strong conviction for how fiercely proud African Americans are and should be of their history precisely because of how incredible and beautiful it is that they created and continue to create so much from a background of having their roots ripped from them.
Zora Neale Hurston - American Author
The sheer magnificence of Black History in the US and the culture and the beauty of the art, history, literature, the movements, the support for causes back on the continent, is indescribable - especially when you put into the context the background of oppression and opposition all the way. I really can’t begin to do it justice in a blog post.
Martin Luther King Jr. - American Minister
I’m very excited for US black history month, and I think it’s a great time to look at the amazing contributions Black Americans have given to our lives, from inventions to literature to music to so much of the culture that is popular today. Whether you love the blues, jazz, hip-hop, rap or anything in between – it’s all a product of the African American community – what an awe-inspiring thing.