Payge Luneau thinks it’s important to celebrate Black History Month every February because it’s a time to learn about the African-Americans who overcame discrimination in pursuit of civil rights.
Luneau was among the students who participated in a lesson on black history in Chris Lowry’s government class at Pilot Point High School last Friday. Each student picked a prominent African-American and explained his or her contribution to American history.
Luneau chose civil rights activist Rosa Parks because of the courage she showed by refusing to give up her city bus seat to a white passenger.
“She knew she would get arrested for not getting up, but she did it anyway,” Luneau said. “And that started a movement. During that time, women, especially black women, didn’t have any rights, so the fact that she did that really stood out to me.”
Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat, which spurred a citywide boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. As a result, the city of Montgomery lifted the law that segregated blacks and whites on public buses.
Luneau believes that it is important to remember the United States is a diverse melting pot of different colors and cultures.
“America is a place that people can live in peace,” Luneau said. “But it wasn’t always like that. Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King all made history by overcoming very harsh odds and making a name for themselves.”
Riley Baker has a family friend who said he’s related to abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.
“My dad’s friend somewhere down the line is related to him,” Baker said. “He can explain so much about him and has books with some of Douglass’ speeches. He even has some of Douglass’ speeches posted on his wall; I think that is really cool. Douglass accomplished so much despite being so oppressed.”
Baker thinks black history month is important because it’s a reminder of how important equality was to African-Americans and why equality should be valued so much today.
“We are equal,” Baker said. “It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, we are together as one. When I lived in New Mexico we had a lot of different races in our class and we celebrated each one. We were very accepting of everyone in our class; we didn’t put one person over the other.”
Juan Ramirez is a big fan of sports so he chose four-time gold medalist Jesse Owens.
“I look up to him because he won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics,” Ramirez said. “When he got back home, he wasn’t appreciated for it because of the color of his skin.”
Ramirez thinks it’s important to celebrate Black History Month to give credit to black athletes like Owens who were successful despite the negativity that surrounded them.