Honoring Black History Month

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

February is Black History Month and I wanted to add a couple of my personal thoughts about observing this commemoration this year. Dr. King and I share the same birthday on January 15th and I have taken an interest in his history and background. My experience in going through grade school was in the 1960’s and so all of the tumultuous events that took place during that decade have left a mark on me as I have grown to be more reflective in my older years. My experience in grade school was to receive a certain Eurocentric spin to human history. Teachers lectured us on the basic “facts” that the Americas were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 by sailing for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand from Spain. You can imagine my surprise to later learn that the Americas had been inhabited by native folk for many centuries. Thus, you may be able to appreciate some of the insight I have gained over the decades as I realize that this Eurocentric perspective may not be shared by some of my fellow Americans who have a heritage centered in the African continent. This brings me back to Black History Month. Our town and local government are wrestling with the issues associated with the construction of a Civil War Museum and the message that that museum will portray to visitors. I do not claim to have any insight to what the planners and historians have in mind for this particular project, but I will try to make the argument that the project should move forward. I, like many of my generation, have a thirst for knowledge about history and heritage to which we have not been made familiar. Having highly educated consultants on the project that have the ability in internalize the events of the 19th century and put them forward in a responsible way that can only have a positive effect on those that visit the museum. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville is currently upgrading its facilities to speak to a current generation that wants their information presented in a more interactive way. This museum is a great source of pride for me as a veteran and an American. I have taken my family on ‘educational’ vacations where we visited Civil War sights and battlefields in an attempt to give them a better insight into our American heritage. We have many of these incredible museums to the north and to the south of Fayetteville. Putting Fayetteville on the map for families that are investigating these issues would not only help our financial situation, but would elevate our reputation as a leader in American service. We do house America’s Guard of Honor, the 82d Airborne Division. Fayetteville has been for the past century at the tip of the spear. We are proud of our support of our military members, their families and our veterans. Having a world class museum that evokes memories of how we dealt with the issues of slavery and state’s rights can only be a positive thing (even if you just weigh the educational value alone.) Many people, like me, would honor Black History Month by educating myself in the issues that have never been a part of my formal education as a youth. I urge you to stay involved in the conversation that is taking place among our civic leaders.