By Russell Zazueta
The significance of Black History Month at East Los Angeles College is answered by the knowledge of its students.
It is the responsibility and interest of ELAC students to understand Black History Month is a time capsule of achievement for Black civil rights.
February recognizes the contributions of African-American civil rights activists, artists, athletes, scientists, politicians and other African-American contributions to society that have influenced social culture, politics, music and literature in the United States and around the world.
It is important to note that not only has African-American civil rights leaders pushed for the rights of African Americans, but for all races alongside them.
In August of 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave an ardent speech in front of thousands of Americans of different ethnic roots, about ending racism in the United States.
Many ELAC students today remember this speech as the, “I have a dream speech,” taught to them by an American history class at some point in their education.
Although for some students this is the water-mark of Black History month, for others February is just another month.
Tyrel Chance, 19, is an ELAC football player. When asked about what he knew about Black History Month, he said, “Not much . . . I don’t really get into it, it’s just another month.”
However, he did cite that Martin Luther King Jr. was important to Black history, but he had no further comment on the subject.
Proving there are still some students on campus who aren’t fully aware of the significance of Black History Month.
“For being Hispanic, I kind of look at African-Americans as inspiration because it paved the way for us through the civil rights movement. And that inspired other minority groups to find equality too,” said ELAC student, Janet Macias.
On the other hand, ELAC students did mention some of their favorite African-American sports heroes and artists they believed should be honored during this month.
Joseph Silva is a Dutch American and arts major here at ELAC. He cites Gordon Parks, a famous photographer, writer, filmmaker and musician as an inspiration to his field. “ He’s the director of the original “Shaft.” But before he was a filmmaker, he was a photographer and was the first Black photographer of “Life” magazine.”
Parks wasn’t just a famous influence in the entertainment business. He was an active participant during the Black civil rights movement and his work in photojournalism reverberated it loudly.
Other students mentioned basketball legend Michael Jordan, and “rope-a-dope” master Muhammad Ali as important African-American heroes that should be honored during this month.
While not every student was able to answer in detail, the significance of Black History Month, many ELAC students do share a common knowledge about Martin Luther King Jr. and his significance to Black History Month.