Love In A Big World: Histories

February 10th, 2017

When I first started college I attended a small Catholic university in downtown Pittsburgh. One of my favorite classes was Multiculturalism. The professor introduced me to a new way of thinking. She encouraged the class to question what we see on television, what we read in magazines, and what we hear on the news. Some of the most important questions to ask are “From whose perspective is this story being told? And are all the players equally represented?”

I transferred to Belmont University here in Nashville to complete my degree in English. One of my favorite classes at Belmont was African-American Literature. We studied poetry, stories and plays written by African-American authors, such as Alice Walker, Phillis Wheatley, Chinua Achebe, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, August Wilson, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright. To read the words, the secret thoughts, of characters and authors I never knew existed before changed me. I realized how vital it is for each person to find her own voice  and how necessary it is for us to listen.

The celebration of Black History month started in 1926 and became widely accepted in 1976. You may wonder why we honor this observance. Well, I know at least one of the reasons for this unique celebration. It’s because we need to be intentional about listening to the stories of our African-American brothers and sisters past and present. Their stories are our stories…truly American stories.  By taking the time to learn these stories our perspective about our big world changes. We see African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Caucasian Americans — all Americans — all people, even ourselves, differently yet more the same. 

And we might be surprised as we read the words of those who were once silenced, to find our own voice.

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