Ras Olugbenga

AUGUST is Black History Month

Ras Olugbenga
AUGUST is Black History Month

Black History Month should be in August. Yep, I said it. If Black History month were in August, it would only be right for Will Smith’s “Summer Time” to be the official song of the month long celebration. I know I can’t be the only one who’s thought Black History month is cool, but needs a “rebrand”. I mean, James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice & SIng” is, well, in hop-hop terms - it’s lyrics (message) are tight, but the beat (tempo) is wack. Summertime inspires a feel-good vibe for Black people - cookouts, basketball, family, playing children, brilliance and warmth from the sun.

 

It’s an unofficial fact that Black people like when it’s sunny and hot. We are even referred to as “people of the sun” because our skin’s melanin content allows us to soak up the nourishment from sun rays.  In the Hughes Brothers’ classic film, Menace II Society,  Sharif (a supporting character with a pro-Black militant persona, who Tupac was supposed to play) was asked why he had a hoodie on his head “lookin’ like the grim reaper”, and he poignantly replied “We the tropical people you understand? We let the Europeans deal with this madness.” Ain’t nobody got time to be wearing a daishiki and sandals in February - it’s not happening.

 

Family reunions also happen, when? Summertime. And many take place in early August or late July. Black people all across the world have a distinct respect for family lineages. As the oldest people of the planet Earth, it’s only logical that tracing our Ancestry is a source of pride. And on top of this, if Black history month were in August it would encourage Black families to teach that history during their family reunion - because we all know, the best parts of Black history are not taught in public schools.

 

Speaking of public school, when is back to school time? August. Yep. Imagine, the first month back to school would be the “Black History Month module”. Wouldn’t that be tight for Black history to be the first lesson on the syllabus? I think so, but I am admittedly (and rightfully) bias. It’s called “nationalism” - and yes you can have a nation without land/statehood (but that’s beside the point). What’s really the point is that Marcus Garvey, one of the most impactful Black African diasporic figures of the 20th century, was born on August 17, 1887. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)  in his home of Jamaica at age 27. The UNIA is special, though. It was founded for anyone who was Black, regardless of your origin country, religion, gender, or sexual preference. From social and financial capital gained from the UNIA, Garvey built the Black Star Line, a publicly traded maritime shipping company. Garvey IPO’d! Pardon me, but Dr. King, Huey, Malcolm, or any other social activist I know of didn’t take a company public, and sell shares of stock on behalf of said company.


Marcus Garvey also inspired Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah (known as the “Father of Modern Afrika” to design their country’s flag inspired by the Black Star brand of the Black Star Line. In fact, the red, black, and green Universal African Flag was first introduced via the UNIA on August 13. Kenya, Malawi, and  Libya all incorporate the hues of Red, Black, and Green into their national flags. It’s “Black” History month, not Black-American history month, right? Exactly. The Haitian Revolution began on August 22 in 1791. And Nat Turner’s rebellion began in August too during the year of 1831. Keep it real with yourself - August is a better time to celebrate Blackness and its eminent glory.