The Importance of Observing Black History and Women’s History Months

When I first came to work for Professional Staffing Group I would occasionally be asked with a grin, “What’s it like working with your wife as your boss?” To which I would respond, “Not a lot different from a lot of spouses before me who have had their husband as their boss. It is not so much a matter of who is the boss as it is what kind of boss he or she is.” And that topic would be dropped. Yet, that brings me to another topic.

Early on my parents taught me the importance of learning the lessons of history if I was to have a history. As a white male born and raised in the south I often hear others like me (white male) comment with a bit of rancor in their voices, “Why do we need to have months like these? Isn’t American history the history of all Americans?” My answer has been, “Well yes, and no.”

“Yes,” American history is indeed the history of all who have lived here, but “No” the significant contributions of all those who have lived here and contributed to what America has become has not been told. Often, if told at all, their history has not been told in its entirety, or with truthfulness, or with inclusivity. How often have we heard the comment that some recent terrible event has occurred because someone, or some entity, failed to learn the lessons of history. Yet, from my history books I did not learn of the advancements which we all share because of the contributions of Native Americans who thrived on these lands before my own ancestors arrived. I did not learn of the contributions to science, education, medicine and culture made by African-Americans who either were forcibly brought to our shores or who were descendants of those slaves. I did not learn of the broad advances in every aspect of my life which were brought about by the courage and wisdom of women.

Another parochial saying goes “history is written by the winners” meaning that through the eyes of those regarded as the powerful only the history of only the winners gets written and re-written as truth. History, as we have learned it, has been written predominantly by white men, the “winners” in this scenario. If we are to truly learn American and World History we must learn the part of history which the “winners” have glossed over. More women than Betsy Ross, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sally Ride have had a large role in our common history. More African-Americans have had a positive influence on our culture than just Frederick Douglas, George Washington Carver, B.B. King, Tiger Woods and Barrack Obama.

Perhaps my friends are correct. We don’t need one month each year to focus on Black History or Women’s History. We need twelve months. We need to learn something each day of each of those histories and how persons of color and women of all ethnicities have made American History and World History so rich. So as this year’s Black History month comes to an end and March’s observance of Women’s History Month begins, we at Professional Staffing Group, a woman owned and multi-ethnically staffed firm in the deep South, encourage you to make your history inclusive so that one day, someday, months set aside to observe either will have become past history as we will have embraced the history of all as our own.

(For further background on Black History Month you can read: Daryl Michael Scott, “The Origins of Black History Month,” Archived February 14, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, 2011, http//:www.asalh.org/  and at the Library of Congress Black History Month Website http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/

For information on the National Women’s History Month check out the National Women’s History website at http://www.nwhp.org/about-2/our-history/ )

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