February 6, 2014 5:41 PM
By Amoya Edwards
Since I was a little girl growing up in Houston, Texas, the third Monday in January that most people enjoyed off from work or school has been more than just that. It was a day that my father would spend with my twin sister and I to chauffeur us around the city to show us landmarks of Black history, discuss how far we’ve come and share stories about leading men and women of service who were responsible for it all.
This day was especially important, because it was also looked at as a kickoff for celebrating “our history month” – recognizing the history makers within my family. My mother’s cousin was a main organizer of one of the most influential civil rights activities in the South, the Freedom Rides. Several of my family members participated in sit-ins, and were even beaten and jailed for standing up to racist officials in Texas and Louisiana. My father educated my sister and I all year long about historical facts and political happenings (he was a political nerd, and was even a Texas Democratic delegate before he died in 2011), but he made sure to urge us to learn and be inspired during this month because our blood was a part of it.
After losing my father when I was 21 years old, Black History Month and the two weeks leading up to it always make me reminisce on the moments we shared and the lessons he taught my twin sister and I. I still remember when my father shared a story of how at the young age of seven he memorized one of the most powerful speeches to be delivered in Washington, D.C. in 1963. He would make it a point to brag on how he could still recite the speech almost verbatim well into his 50’s.
As an adult, Black History Month is the time of year that I reminisce on those moments of education and inspiration from my father, and make it a point to show my gratitude to the leaders before me by educating myself on the sacrifices they made so that I can live in the world I live in today. I can’t wait untiI I get the opportunity to continue my father’s work with children of my own. I look forward to teaching them why Black History Month is more than a month of education and service, more than remembering what our cousins, aunts and uncles did during the civil rights era, but it’s an integral part of them and I, and something that we must always remember.
To get where we’re going, we must know where we came from. I’m so grateful to my father and my other family members for making it a point to educate me on “our history” month, and bringing Black History Month much closer to me than a school play or trip to a museum could ever do.