Thursday, 2 February 2012

Why Do We Need Black History Month?

Boker Tov:Yesterday began Black History Month.
I wanted to write this entry yesterday, but the day was rather busy.
Around the first week of the year, I received a summons for jury duty. My service began yesterday.
My first thought was 'oh joy.' But then I thought back to when I was in tenth grade.
It was social studies class and that year our class studied our legal system. This included having holding a trial in class.
I had been home for two week with the flu, but had kept up with my homework. So when I returned to class, I was shocked to learn I would be the Prosecutor, and I had to quickly get up to speed on the case.
I learn much from that class. My teacher said I would make a fine lawyer, but I have to admit I found it boring.
Turns out that was the very reason my mother chose not to go to law school.
So now, as an adult I get to be part of the progress. The last time I was in a courtroom, I was a witness. This time, a juror.
Of course the summons informed me it would be a long day and bring a book and sweater since the courtroom can be chilly. Pity I can't bring a piece of needle-point or a baby blanket to work on.
Mark is still in school and I don't like leaving Montague alone all day, we took our little dude to the neighbourhood doggie Daycare, Wags, where he had a great time and met new friends.
So, I showed early, went through security and headed off for the jury room, waiting for District Court to open.
While I waited, I overheard a conversation between two police officers. One was sharing how he would be going to his daughter's school later in the day. He would be speaking to the daughter's class about being a police officer. His wife, a lawyer would be there as well to share about being a lawyer.
But not just a police officer and lawyer. But a black officer and black lawyer.
It was then I remember that this was the beginning of Black History Month.
What a long way we have come. There was a time this couple would not be officers of the court, but cleaning it. There was a time, I would not have been called to serve as a juror. I would be cleaning the very lobby we are sitting in.
One hundred years ago, the only way I would live in the neighbourhood I call home is as live-in help.
Black History is American History. It is All Americans History. This nation was builded with the muscle, blood, sweat and tears of men, women and children, both sold and stolen from their homes and brought across the waters to another land, another world and enslaved for the rest of their lives.
That is part of this nation's history, like it or not.
I am the hope and dreams of my great-great grandparents who were amoug the slave force I speak of. They prayed one day their children or their childrens' children would taste and enjoy freedom.
We do.
We have come a long way. But we still have a long way to go.
That's why we still need Black History Month.

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