“Freedom becomes a lot valuable when earned rather than given.” ~WOK

When it’s February and you hear the name Black History Month, who are some of the first names you think of? Most people think of black idols such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, or Zora Neale Hurston. However once you have taken an African American studies class at NC State your knowledge of black idols expand. Preferably, in Dr. Denise Heinze’s ENG 248 I have learned of a lot more African American people who deserve more attention then we give them.

Have you ever heard of Harriet Jacobs, Victor Séjour, David Walker, or Phillis Wheatly? These are all names of authors who have written slave narratives. Some of these authors were even born slaves here in North Carolina. Reading their life story you will understand that these people have been through a lot more than we realize. These former slaves tell stories of the days and times when freedom was looked down upon but was often fought for. They prove that the civil war was well deserved and that abolition of slavery meant a lot too many people.

As an African American, I wonder how many of my colleagues actually take their freedom for granted. We are privileged to have these wonderful scholars, and I call them scholars due to the fact that they were forbidden to read and write, yet their stories appeared on paper, detailing personal hardships. However some African Americans would rather waste their freedom by committing activities that allow them to become incarcerated, making the slaves fight for freedom worthless.

I had a classmate who made a comment in terms such as, “maybe it was beneficial for Africans to be captured and moved to America to become slaves, it’s a lot better than where they were.” That’s when I pose the questions for my black colleagues, would you rather be a product of African Americans who fought for their slavery, or would you rather have Africans remain in Africa never experiencing the fight for dignity as history tells? The best way to answer this question would be to first read the slave narratives of some of these authors. Understand where they have been, what they have experienced, the pain of their whippings, and the emotional pain that came from physical and sexual abuse.

So as you begin February and indulge in the culture events of Black History Month, I would suggest you to read a slave narrative. Learn some history and I’m sure you will appreciate this month more than you have before.