By CHRISTOPHER M. PRESTON
In Black History Month we celebrate the illustrious history of African Americans in the United States of America. We take time to remember the social “rebels” who not only fought against the legal injustices of their time but who also made the ultimate sacrifices to ensure those after them would live in a land of equal opportunity.
As a senior political science major at Morehouse College, I take time to reflect on the past, present and future of our community and place in society. I take time to stand still in a busy, ever evolving world. I stand still to allow the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. to manifest within me. I stand still to allow the wise words of the profound educator, Benjamin Elijah Mays to penetrate into my soul. I stand still to appreciate Morehouse College’s mission, the mission to educate her sons and provide them with the tools and nourishment to serve the world. I stand still to pay an abiding tribute to the lives and sacrifices of so many brave African Americans who stood tall in the face of adversity, staring it in the eyes, challenging its unequal foundation. I stand still knowing that every opportunity I’m afforded is attached to the debt I owe — the debt I owe to my ancestors and to anyone that’s ever had a vision of a better America. An America where students, no matter their race, can go as far as their dreams will allow.
Finally, I take time to stand still for the unsung heroes, the heroes that went unnoticed but never forgotten. The heroes whose stories we will never hear but always feel. I stand still for the African-American woman, who represents the epitome of Black history in her own right. I take time to praise the single mothers, my mother, Joann Preston, who gave her all to her only son. Who, without ever taking a day off, played the role of mother and father. I stand still knowing her stake in the community is Black history.
As Atlanta has a long, rich tradition of African-American achievement and excellence, it also has a past we must never forget. We must never forget the past for the same fundamental reason we strive to never make the same mistake twice. We must never forget the past so that we can remain steadfast, honest and true to all things that we do. As Fredrick Douglass so eloquently stated: “Without struggle there is no progress” and Mr. Douglas is currently smiling, knowing that progress is in fact being made. As we celebrate Black History Month, we must do so understanding that black history is nonetheless American history. As we helped lay the foundation for this great country, our stake in its future is as bright as it’s ever been.
As I have enjoyed my years at Morehouse College, I prepare to close one chapter and begin a new one. Accepting my role as an advocate for social justice and equality, I stand upright, willing to continue the fight for civil rights and civil liberties, excited to know the scope is in fact broader, entailing all races and tackling all inequalities. Take a moment to stand still.
Christopher M. Preston is a senior political science major at Morehouse College here in Atlanta.