It seems ever so fitting that women’s history month is celebrated immediately after black history month considering the fact that black women have been one of the most oppressed demographics in history.
History reveals to us that even when America was founded white males were the only people who were truly free with all of their natural born rights.
Women weren’t allowed to vote or even decide who they wanted to marry. African Americans were forced to live for years as nothing more than tools known as slaves.
So when it comes down it, the farthest anyone could get from being the ideal white man, was by being a black woman.
Over time, however, things began to change. We slowly, but surely, moved towards a nation where equality as key.
After years of making these strides, it is important that we as African American women take the time to celebrate those who came before us and made it possible for us to be the successful women that many of us are today.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Do I really have to go crack open a history book and study about black women?”
Well our first response would be, “Why wouldn’t you want to?”
You would be reading about the women who fought for you to have the right to learn how to read in the first place. The least you could do is read about them right?
Our next response would be, “Fine. We’re in the age of technology now, not everybody wants to sit down with a book and some people don’t have time.”
We get it. But celebrating the women who made today possible for you could be as simple as pulling out your smart phone and Googling a few prominent African American women from history.
There is no excuse for us to be so lazy and nonchalant about learning our history.
Krissah Thompson, a journalist for the Washington Post, explained that black women have made incredible progress over several generations and it is certainly something that needs to be both celebrated and appreciated.
“[I]f you look back at the 1960s, black women were primarily in the service sector and have made leaps and bounds in terms of college graduation rates, and the numbers who are professionals, and in some cases in management and leadership,” Thompson told TheGrio.
She went on to explain that most black women are well aware of how far they have come and that alone often contributes to most African American women’s positive outlooks and high self-esteem.
“I think that young black women do understand how much progress has been made,” she said.
Some young black women learn from their history books while others learn about the progress from their very own family members. Thompson wrote a powerful article that tracked a family through three generations of young black women. As it turned out, the only reason the two younger women were encouraged to work so diligently in college was because they knew about the struggles their grandmother had faced in order to give them that opportunity.
Their grandmother herself attended college against all odds during the Jim Crow era and her daughter realized it would be beyond insulting to not follow in those footsteps – even when she wasn’t sure if college was the right path for her.
In addition to family members and the many amazing women that fill the pages of history books, many young black women are finally able to look around today and find several role models who have conquered every voice that said there wasn’t a place for black women in the world.
Oprah has become a journalism icon, America welcomed it’s very first black FLOTUS Michelle Obama, Nichelle Nichols made her way into almost every home across the U.S through radio and television, and Folorunsho Alakija from Nigeria has become the wealthiest black woman in the world after she turned her profits from oil drilling into a successful fashion endeavor.
While there are still boundaries to cross, walls to break down, and obstacles to jump over there are many most possibilities for African American women now and much further for us to go.
Our ancestors rewrote history to make room for black female business owners and politicians when during their time they couldn’t be much more than worthless maid.
It’s time to pay back our respects for their sake and ours.
The important thing to remember as we welcome women’s history month, is that it’s not just about remembering the past. It’s also about using the past to make a better plan for the future.