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Black History Month 2019: Hidden figures of literature

Black History Month is 28 days long. In those 28 days, it is the chance to celebrate the achievements that African-Americans have accomplished and are continuing to accomplish each day.

African-American literature is not taught in schools. Why is that? It takes stepping foot on a college campus for an African-American student to realize that there were authors who wrote their way out of their small towns and made something of themselves. They are the hidden figures of Black History. They made their mark, but they are always overlooked by a figure that is just slightly more important than them.

Take James Baldwin as an example of being a hidden figure. He is now known for his work being distributed to the public through 2017 Academy Award nominated documentary “I Am not Your Negro,” and recently, in the 2018 Academy Award nominated film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Before movies continued Baldwin’s legacy, he was a writer who wrote stories such as “The Fire Next Time” and “Giovanni’s Room.”

Black literature is the root of the African-American voice. Books written by authors, such as Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Alex Haley, give black children the chance to read and learn from the black perspective.

They are reading something that is written by someone who looks like them. They should not be deprived of this because it is the first step into giving them a voice. These authors took their real life experiences and wrote them down on paper.

Their voices were heard, but unfortunately, they are not heard as much as they should be.

Some voices were amplified while some were muffled at the hands of the justice system. Angela Davis is one of those voices. A voice for the oppressed and a prominent civil rights activist, she was arrested in 1970 and was acquitted of her charges two years later, in 1972. She is still making her voice heard at events, such as the Women’s March.

The voice of the black people comes in many forms. A main form is through the art of literature. It is should be taught in schools, and it should not be kept under the rug. The power of a pen to paper, the power of words is one of the world’s most powerful things.


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