Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.
Sadly, this was just about the entire list of who we learned about in grade school as it pertains to African Americans. It makes many Non-POC Americans uncomfortable to discuss Black History Month, and notable Black folks-- why, I'm not sure. I see a great deal of comments under any Black History Month post asking "When is White History Month?" Most of the time, I chuckle and laugh it off. However, majority of my history classes growing up covered Non-Black folks. We had brief lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, we had a little coverage of George Washington Carver and WEB Du Bois, and we would not even touch the Black Panther Party, Black Muslims and heaven forbid Malcolm X.
One of the beautiful things about Black folks is, we are not a monolithic people. There are things to glean from the very best of us, as well as those who could have (perhaps) made better choices. For instance, you may not agree with the early teachings or perhaps religion of Malcolm X, but certainly you can agree when he mentioned "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." Malcolm X was also an advocate for Black folks to love their outer appearance and features-- which was very important because Black folks features were constantly the topic of many jokes and ridicule.
It is easy to recite and study the popular quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because he, like most of us, was a Christian man/minister. We look at him from a very basic perspective as an American fighting for liberty and justice for all- and he did. However, he was well aware of his Blackness. "Yes, Im Black, I'm proud of it. Im Black and beautiful!"
With that being said, I challenge you this Black History Month, to research and study someone who perhaps thought or worshipped differently than you do, and find something of value from their life that you can apply to 2021. Share a quote or video of your findings. I would love to hear from and dialogue with you.