By: Markayle Tolliver 

black protesters with signs and covid maskscelebrate black history month 2023

As far back as the 1900s, Black History has been woven into history textbooks, documentaries, TV shows and books. However, there have been some misconceptions and misunderstandings about the full extent of what Blacks have endured. Black History IS American History. This month is essential and definitely needed.

The Black race has not only endured slavery, discrimination and prejudice actions, but the African-American race in particular is presently still pursuing challenges, overcoming boundaries, and making history. In our modern times, the Black community continues to face police brutality, (both from other races and our own Black cops), housing insecurities, financial lack due to lack of resources and knowledge, and the need to continuously prove our credentials.

“The Recurring Issue”

Travyon Martin, 2012… Eric Garner, 2014… Tamir Rice, 2014… Sandra Bland, 2015… Breanna Taylor, 2020… George Floyd, 2020… Tyre Nichols, 2023… Blacks have been, and still are being brutally killed by police officers and the officers are not being justly held accountable for their inhumane behavior. These cases where unarmed Blacks are being killed (for what is thought to be a weapon), is a major cry that the police force, as a whole, needs more training and a more intense hiring process.

Many police departments should require more racial training, more gun safety classes and training about reaction vs response. Based upon previous incidents, it shows that these trainings would be specific to what cops need help in, it would have a specific learning goal, and should include frequent updated trainings after the initial training. In the same way many jobs have trainings and professional development classes, these trainings for police officers would serve the exact same purpose and begin to limit police brutality cases as well as build trust in the police force.

collage of five black young people
Picture of recent African-Americans who were killed. Courtesy of CNN


“The Disparity in Health”

Pfizer released a study that the top health issues that Blacks have a higher rate of are: heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza, diabetes, pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS. According to a CDC study, African-Americans ages 35-64 are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure than white counterparts. These are two intense statistics that show the prevalence of health disparities that the Black community is facing on a daily basis.

As a young child, I grew up seeing and hearing family members endure sickness and even be summoned to death by these diseases/sicknesses. Growing up seeing this, I always wondered what the issue was with many Blacks dying for not being healthy and/or not having doctors who genuinely care or who can not pinpoint the cause. Yet, due to COVID-19, it was evident that those things were true, but Blacks also endure many health disparities from the lack of knowledge and resources (health-wise and financially).

The African-American community here in Chicago, lacks healthcare centers on the South and West-sides which ultimately results in the lack of good health. Additionally, due to the far location and the high healthcare prices, many Blacks tend to stay away from the doctor.

There are study findings that show food/diet also plays an important role in health and due to the lack of knowledge of certain foods and their impact, African-Americans tend to lack the needed healthy foods for a strong body.

black woman with doctor at doctors office
 Courtesy of PCORI


“Call to Action”

The African-American community endures many disparities that aim to lower the enhancement of Blacks; however many Blacks are investing in many areas to help develop and re-develop the pain of the Black community. There are organizations that are being formed that have a mission to help promote and enhance the quality of life for Blacks. There are Blacks who are becoming government, civic, community, and ecclesiastical leaders to help elevate the Black race, from housing to politics, to banking to education, to religion to the arts. Due to the continued push of achievements and successes of Blacks, this month needs to always be celebrated.  And continue on for even longer than a solitary month.

In the area of education, at each level of schooling, there needs to be classes and programs that teach African-American past and present history. Additionally, schools should implement and adopt initiatives that promote awareness and intentional implementation of Black culture. Finally, school administration should have some representation where students and parents can be able to have some assistance and resources.

In the political field, there needs to be more Blacks who are holding and sitting in these seats of power that will help to change the trajectory of investment for Black neighborhoods. There are Blacks who are currently in some of these seats and are elevating and changing some laws and procedures, but there can be more that will have a greater impact.

The entertainment industry should continue to elevate the culture of the African-American community through music, movies, and other entertainment projects. There are entertainers and film leaders who are investing in communities to build up the passion for the arts in these areas.

As many industries, organizations, and movements begin and continue to fight for Black equality AND equity, the need for Black History will become a part of everyday history and culture.


black history month black and white photo collage



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