My Challenge to Make Black History Personal

First, I should be candid in saying that there’s something about putting the focus on Black history only in the month of February that bugs me. It’s a history we should treasure 365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks a year. But with that said – I think Black history month is a timely reminder to us that we need to –

  • Learn more
  • Remember more and
  • Share more about how we show up in the history of this country.

Second, I have a confession. As a genealogist for almost 40 years, I’ve gotten way too comfortable hanging out in long-ago historical times. Put me back doing research in the 17th and 18th centuries and you’ve got one happy camper.

But, sadly, I have neglected the more recent history in my family about being Black in America – oral family history and my personal experience stored in the memory banks of people who will not be around forever. And I’m way overdue on getting that history out of our heads and on to the page.

This means, instead of discovering interesting but random factoids in February 2014, you’ll find me exploring my family’s role in the events of American Black history and preserving those memories.

To make Black history personal, I will post here on Extreme Ancestry every day in February (yes, weekends included) about the history in my family that will be lost forever if I don’t write it down. The hashtag (#) is #makeblackhistorypersonal.

make black history personal

As you follow my journey, I hope it sparks memories about what you and your family have experienced. Maybe you’ll even join me by documenting that history and sharing it in some way. 

For years, as African-Americans we were not allowed to write our own history. And later, those who wrote it down for us put their own spin on it. Now the history that “makes history” in the media gets documented but what about the history that doesn’t – those everyday events that play a role in shaping who we are as African-Americans.

The way I figure – this is finally our time to capture history the way we want it recorded for the future generations.

Let’s do this!

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2 responses to My Challenge to Make Black History Personal

  1. I think you’re absolutely right on both counts, Karen. We should celebrate everyone’s role in history year-round, not just in specific months. And yes, I’m with you on the downside of “happy hanging out in the past.” There is so much history that has happened in our own lifetimes — history that is going to be lost if we don’t record it.

    • Karen says:

      Amy – I’m so glad you came by to visit. I’ve had this “make black history personal” idea in my head for a year but hadn’t taken action until you inspired me with your 52 Ancestors blog challenge. It made me realize that I needed my own challenge to get me going on pulling together the recent history of my family. It’s something that Alex Haley actually advised me to do years ago – buy hey, that my blog post for this Friday. Hope you’ll stop back by to read the story. Loving 52 Ancestors!!


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