Say it With me, ‘Black History Always!’

Say it With me, ‘Black History Always!’

February is fast approaching, which means that the buzz around Black History Month is starting to take shape, and we’re also going to be hit with a lot of commercialism and activism. However, one thing you can always count on here at The Undefeated is awareness and the celebration of Black history. Always. For 365 days a year, 24/7, we amplify Black voices and Black stories, giving the world a soulful look at our community’s sports, race, culture, politics and ideas. In doing so, one must, of course, give credit and make people aware of the successful and highly talented Black individuals who have inspired us and made a difference in our community. Besides celebrating MLK Day on Jan. 17 this year, I also created a list of Black facts for the same date for people to ponder. (I mean, did you know that Muhammad Ali was nominated for a Grammy twice?)

In 2017, The Undefeated staff created The Undefeated 44, a list of 44 fierce Black Americans throughout history who shook up the world. From anti-lynching journalist Ida B. Wells to Muslim minister and activist Malcolm X to rap mogul Jay-Z, the list highlights Black Americans who served as trailblazers, pushing the envelope and breaking barriers for generations to come. Included in this collection of dreamers, innovators, record-breakers and symbols of pride is one of the most well-known and influential Black men in the world, former President Barack Obama.

Every winter as we enter the new year, I can’t help but think of the time when my father, a Black man longing to see another Black man hold the highest position of power in the world, took my brothers and me to the nation’s capital to see Obama make history. I was only 8 on that cold January morning in 2009, sitting on my dad’s shoulders in the middle of the National Mall, peeking above the record-breaking crowd to witness what was once the unthinkable: the inauguration of the first Black president of the United States. So many emotions were rushing through my head at the time, but the one that sticks with me the most in that moment is contentment. I was at peace seeing a man who shared the same skin color as me become my president.

Obama became the symbol of hope throughout his eight years in office, and that is exactly what he gave me, hope. I feel extremely blessed that I had the opportunity to grow up with a Black man in office for most of my childhood. Seeing him in power truly inspired me and showed me that the unthinkable could happen to me too. Those feelings of hope ultimately led me to attending a historically Black school, Morgan State University, a place where I could continue to be inspired by like-minded individuals who, of course, look like me. Now, as a Rhoden Fellow at The Undefeated, I, too, am creating content for the culture, including this newsletter. All year round, we see people like Obama make history and inspire hope for the Black community. But what if we only talked about Obama’s accomplishments, and others like him, in February? Why should we confine learning the history and honoring the triumphs of African Americans to just one month? I certainly won’t and neither should you. So on Jan. 22, I ask you this: Which Black pioneer has inspired you? You don’t need to wait until next month to answer. — Cayla Sweazie

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