QUESTION: Has the significance of Black History Month changed since George Floyd was killed

There are days it seems the calls for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd were made just yesterday.

Not even a year has passed, by it often feels those cries came a lifetime ago.

One must wonder what history will say about the protests ― the vast majority of them peaceful ― and the impact they made on Americans.

For Sunday’s Ideas and Voice page, I asked guest columnist to ponder a related question: Has Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer changed the significance of Black History Month? The observance is celebrated in February and traces its history back to the “Negro History Week” Carter G. Woodson first initiated in 1926.

There columns are linked in this piece as related items.

Marc L. DeWitt, coordinator of the African American Male Initiative at Sinclair Community College and a Dayton Community Police Council member, offered his take on the month and Woodson.

“He was the one of the first scholars to study the accomplishments and contributions of people of the African Diaspora on American culture. ‘Black culture’ has been relegated to the margin throughout its 400 some odd years in this country. Black people have historically been criminalized in the media, and then drawn to the forefront to stand trial in the court of public opinion.

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“Later simply stereotyped, and later still, tragically executed as was the case with Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Breanna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey and far too many others.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

“The horrific 8 minutes and 46 second execution of George Floyd stands alone.

“The significance of Black History Month has not changed in the least since Floyd’s tragic death.

“If there has been a shift, it’s the increased visibility and recognition of it in the mainstream and with the majority.

“Black History Month is vital to the education of all. Just as we learned the history and originations of the “forefathers” of this country, it is time that the contributions of the silent workforce that built this country was brought to immediate and illuminating light.

“Black history is American history as is Native American history and women’s history.

“Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the only way to change the world.’

“What have you learned this month?”

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