The month of February in the United States has been a month dedicated to Black History since 1976. A very special event for African-Americans, but how much of the rest of the population has ever considered the reason for having this celebration? Members of the African-American community at NYIT Manhattan speak to Manhattan Globe and share their personal thoughts.
Campus Life Administrative Assistant, Michelle Davis, talks about a joke she always makes: “We are the bottom of the barrel; first goes the white man, then the white woman, then the black man, then the black woman. So, I have to work four times harder than my counterparts.” This is why she is proud of being a black woman; “African American women don’t have the privilege of things given to them but that does not stop them from being the most highly educated demographic in the country,” she says.
At school, the courses on Black History are electives that you have to pay for separately, according to Michelle. “Have you ever heard of the Black Wall Street?” Brandon Elliott, an undergrad in Urban Administration, jumps into the conversation. “Nobody has, because they don’t teach that anywhere. It was a black neighborhood full of black businesses in the South so prosperous and rich that ended up being destroyed by bombings and massacres,” he continues. “Every single thing in life there is a double standard for,” Michelle adds.
She remembers the first African-American dinner celebration on the Manhattan campus in 2016. “We had a full-house, we read poems and discussed. It shouldn’t only be in the month, though. Diversity should be based on what diverse initiative the school offers.”
Nicholas Takyi, a junior at NYIT, says he has never felt being treated differently as a person of color. “My family in Pennsylvania, though, tells us how much more they are judged compared to others in a community that is predominantly white.” The civil rights movement would be the most significant part of black history for him because “that is where we gained all our freedoms, rights, and we managed to have our words listened to.”
Throughout history, African Americans have battled for dignity and justice. From Ida Wells who made the front page of the New York Times in 1895, as the first black bride-to-be, to Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. From President Kennedy’s “affirmative action” in 1961 to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 to the 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin who celebrated Black History Month with “a Black President and his Black Wife” in the White House, there is nowhere to go but up.