By Leonardo Cervantes
The first Black History Month event of 2022 began with Dr. Melina Abdullah, a recognized expert on race, gender, class and social movements.
She was among the original group of organizers that created the Black Lives Matter movement and is the current Los Angeles chapter leader.
Alberto J. Roman, announced this spring they will be launching a taskforce that will engage in meaningful conversations and develop recommendations and actionable plans to increase resources and support for African American students.
The meeting discussed important historical figures in Black history like Joanne Robinson and Frederick Douglass and their impact on the communities as well as transformation.
Yaa Asantewaa was the first figure highlighted in the meeting. Asentewaa was an African freedom fighter who fought off colonialism in West Africa.
She empowered women to be warriors just like men. They were fighting against injustice and she asked the men of her village to fight off men who were attempting to make them slaves.
“If you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields,” Asentewaa said.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born to enslaved parents and was told she should seek a career in journalism and to not tie herself to the struggle of the people of her time.
She was told to seek a comfortable place in oppression.
She had been lured into that and thought maybe she could find a home in the church but was reminded that black people have linked fate and are all bound up together.
Wells’ friend Thomas Moss and his friends started a groceries store called The People’s Grocery. The store was seen as a threat to white capitalism so her friend Moss and two business patterns were lynched.
This is when Wells realized that there is no such thing as a comfortable place in oppression. She started an independent black newspaper company called The Free Speech and Headlight and she went around the entire nation talking about lynching.
She detailed how black people were killed by white mobs because they posed a threat to their economic status.
Wells wrote two books, The Red Record and Southern Horrors in which she detailed these lynchings.
She had to flee from her town and go to Chicago and find refuge but she said we have to fight back.
“One had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap,” Wells said.
Joanne Robinson was a professor at Alabama state university and was one of the people that set off the Montgomery bus boycott.
On the same night Rosa Parks was arrested, she called local Black mothers and educators at her office. Overnight she and her friends copied thousands of flyers and posted them all across bus stops to get their message across.
Black people walked to work for nearly a year to protest segregation and public transportation and in public spaces.
Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the black panther party for self-defense and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist fighter were among other historical figures highlighted.
All of these figures’ stories are still being talked about today for their substantial impact on the world. They all fought for freedom and justice and transformed the world.