For several decades, Black History month has been celebrated with highly influential names, such as Dr. King, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelo, Fredrick Douglas and many more.
These individuals dedicated their lives to something bigger than themselves. They have carved a space into history solely with the idea of making life better for the American people.
Michele Norris, journalist and the first African-American female host of Nation Public Radio, visited Salt Lake Community College, where she spoke about the Race Card Project, which she founded.
“Race Card Project is interesting because it’s like peeling back an onion that it gets closer and closer to the core. And as you get closer to the core, the deeper things come out. The things that much like that onion produce tears,” says Norris.
As Norris addressed the project, she also confronted underlying issues amongst African-Americans and offered words of empowerment.
“I think it’s important to elevate the contributions of African-Americans in this country all the time not just in the month of February,” says Norris.
The wise words of Norris echoed through the Salt Lake Valley community and sparked concurring responses from black members in different divisions.
“I deal with judges, doctors, engineers, physicists – I deal with all these different kinds of people and I’m yet to have had any black NAACP council. Nobody has ever came to me and said, ‘Hey John, we know you here – let’s help each other,’ and I have been a black business owner for over seven years and still nobody,” says Everybody’s Hair Salon owner John Lovan.
According to the United States Census Bureau, blacks only make up a mere 1.3 percent of the population in Utah.
Although many blacks acknowledge and converse about the celebration of black history, it is often just talk. There is a fine line between talk and action, and a lack of engagement in one common goal of moving the culture towards prosperity.
The black community in Utah has been facing this problem for many years now, but with movements like the Race Card Project, that raise the big question on race, and challenge people to have empathy and understand different worlds, it gives people the opportunity to grow and to change the deep rooted issues that are constantly circulating.
“I think, like anything, we need to find a common interest. It may even take something almost dramatic peruse or some kind of life altering event, to get people out of their comfort zone and to reach out and help people that look like them,” says Minister Dr. Roderic Land.
February is a month when issues about race are just discussed.
However, the issues that are discussed and analyzed are problems that are very real, and these problems stem from many different aspects of people and their lives.
“We need to embrace our past and commit to education – it is highly important when considering conquering our issues as a whole – we also need to be able to utilize everything around us and certainly technology,” says University of Utah Athletic Director Manny Hendrix.
Black History month is a time to remember the importance of diversity and equality.
“You can point out the divisions in a community or you can figure out what things that can stitch us together and get us all to row in the same direction again,” says Norris.