Black History Month: Heroes of Our Time
Black History Month is a month-long annual event (1st February – 1st March) that seeks to recognize and celebrate the achievements of black folks, especially those that were cardinal to fighting colonialism, racial segregation against black people and establishing Pan-Africanism. The struggle may now take a different form but the fight continues. Today, we celebrate Black History with a little twist.
We have been honoring Black revolutionists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Kwame Nkrumah, and the likes. This time, we want to honour Black Heroes of our day. Those in recent times who have stood for what our forefathers shed their blood for. The list below spotlights a few of the instances, in recent times, for which the black people stood up to injustice – and the heroes that have emerged from those instances.
On 25th May, 2020, George Floyd, a middle-aged black man in America, sadly lost his life after he was accused of purchasing cigarettes with a fake $20 note. A police officer, who should know better that it violates fundamental human rights to pronounce punishment or judgement of any sort on an offender before the offender is tried at a court of competent jurisdiction, decided to rather choke George Floyd to death by firmly placing his knee on George’s neck for a good eight minutes before he passed out. The death of George Floyd fueled protests across America and the globe, with protesters chanting the “black lives matter” slogan and calling for an end to the systemic racial abuse and social injustice that blacks especially have to endure in America.
Vanessa Nakate is a young Ugandan climate change activist who is concerned about how temperatures usually get very warm in her country. She was invited by the Arctic Base Camp in Davos, Switzerland to learn how she and other promising young leaders like herself can use science and the tools it provides to combat climate change. She decided to post some pictures of the event online when she landed on an article where she saw the photos of the event and how she was neatly cropped out of them. Every activists’ message was being talked about in this article whiles hers was left out. She silenced people who acted concerned by telling her that she should have rather stood in the middle of the other activists by replying that “everyone saying that I should position myself in the middle is wrong! Does an African activist have to stand in the middle just because of fear of being cropped out?” This incident sparked an outrage on social media and also further demonstrated the racial discrimination and injustice that Blacks have to suffer, not only in America but also Europe as well.
The End SARS Movement
The End SARS Movement is a fight of many faces. For so long the Nigerian government turned a deaf ear to the cry of Nigerians calling for an end to policy brutality especially by the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit. This notorious wing of Nigeria’s police force was widely known for exhorting, kidnapping and murdering Nigerians. An outcry on social media started the #EndSARS global trend that span some weeks which forced the government to disband the unit. Protesters garnered support from world leaders and influential global icons for their tenacity even in the face of death. Sadly, many Nigerians lost their lives on 20th October 2020 when the Nigerian Army was deployed to “dead the matter”. Since that time, a judicial panel has been set up to investigate what happened on that fateful day.
American Football star, Colin Kaepernick, found himself surrounded by controversy when he decided to kneel instead of stand when the American national anthem was being played before the start of football games. According to Kaepernick, taking a knee was his form of protest against racial inequality and the oppression of Blacks in America. In his words, he said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color….to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His stance sparked an outrage after which he opted out of his contract with his football club. However, his brave stance inspired many other sports players to continue the fight against racial injustice. Today, all football clubs in the English Premier League are required to kneel before every match as a solidarity campaign to enforce the message that BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!
These are a few instances of profound impact that demonstrate the willingness of a few to discomfort themselves for the greater good of the black community. These are the heroes that need to be celebrated in our time and such events recorded for posterity sake.
Are you willing to stand for what is right even when you have to suffer for it?
Do you know other profound stories you would like to share? Let us know in the comment section!