I’ve been thinking about the ill-fated Black History Month thread here in TBOT. I didn’t get a chance to post in that thread, but Black History Month is something that I consider to be very important, so I felt the need to address it, especially since February is coming to an end. I’ll keep it as brief as I can: I was born in 1962, so I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Back then, American black history as taught in public schools was basically slavery, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. It was easy for any American, regardless of race, to think that black people had done little more for this country than pick cotton. I remember pictures on the walls of the Sunday School at my church depicting great African-Americans like pioneering surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1856 – August 4, 1931) and thinking, “Black people could be doctors back then?! And not just doctors – SURGEONS!!!” It was a tremendous lift for my spirit, and it made me want to learn more, even if public school didn’t teach such things. The feeling had nothing to do with scientific racial classification; you knew who was considered “black.” It’s too deep to be scientifically quantifiable, categorizable, or classifiable. I’m not being anti-science; I’m just saying certain historical perceptions and attitudes are just too ingrained into American society to be neatly solved. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans of any color still don’t know about Elijah McCoy, Garrett Morgan, Louis Latimer, Granville Woods, Dr. Charles R. Drew (please Google them if you’re unfamiliar; I’m trying to keep this relatively brief), and so many others, or the fact that African-American soldiers have fought valiantly in EVERY war America has ever fought, including the Revolutionary War (blacks in the military didn’t start with Vietnam, though for many decades that’s all that was openly chronicled). I honestly believe that if more Americans had a deeper knowledge of black history, it would somewhat improve race relations in America. It’s a lot harder to dismiss people once you have a much better understanding of how much they’re contributed to society under the most difficult circumstances. And that’s why Black History Month continues to be important and relevant.