As we near the end of Black History Month, I wanted to take the time to reflect on what the month means to me as a Black first-generation graduate student.
Higher education was not accessible to Black Americans for years. I remember learning about the history of my ancestors who fought to learn how to read, write, and to attend classes with their other peers. They were belittled, hosed down, and even killed when trying to further their knowledge. Without their sacrifices and fearless hearts, I would not be able to attend this university today.
I reflect on the way my ancestors used the power of non-violent protest and their voices in order to advocate for the space and the opportunity to advance their educational skills in the real world, and so that their children, grand-children, and great-grand-children could do the same. Education Rights Activist, Malala Yousafzai, said, “Let us remember, one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” I imagine what a world would be like without the input, creativity, and ideas offered by Black Americans. I believe that we would struggle intensively when climbing the ladder of economic and social advancement in this nation without it. What saddens me the most is that after years of blood, sweat, and tears, Black Americans still have to fight for a seat at a table.
My hope is that through my time at Heller, I will be able to not only enhance my skills and expertise but also utilize my experiences to connect to my peers and faculty. I want to be able to embody the strength my ancestors had when advocating for issues that I believe in. Even though this month is the shortest one of the year, celebrating the accomplishments and strides of Black Americans in this nation from the past to the current this does not mean our accomplishments are short-lived or do not exceed expectations. The world moves because we move and I will continue to make sure of this whenever I enter a room no matter what month it is. Black History Month makes me feel a wave of emotions that can be excruciating at times, but it is also extremely beautiful and eventful. This month makes me feel alive and proud; I hope that I can continue to celebrate and shine a light on my community for years to come.