Celebrating Black History Month: Black Iowa News invited Black Iowans to share their feelings about the importance of teaching Black history, voting rights and more — in their own words. Here's the next installment from Alanda Gregory, a Dubuque communications and media professional who leads Tri-Phoenix Group LLC and is co-owner of Dub City Radio. Gregory also helped spearhead the Tri-State Black Business Expo and is the executive director and founder of The Collective Small Business Alliance of Dubuque.
Check back Monday. Black History Month isn't over yet. There is still time to share your point of view. Learn more below.
We aren't just slavery and civil rights or any other uncomfortable parts of history
Alanda Gregory, multimedia creator, communications professional, Dubuque
Alanda Gregory. Photo courtesy of Gregory.
I believe Black history is a part of American history. It is very important for all of us to know history. Not just to know who we are — but to include us in historical storytelling shows our humanness. It reveals that we are very much included in American culture, no matter how ugly.
There are many parts of our history that have been deemed ugly, such as:
- For example, some urban gang organizations helped create school meal programs. Many gang leaders of yesteryear set out to raise younger gang members to go to school and get an education so they could improve their communities.
- The "ugly" parts also include the literary works of Iceberg Slim, a former pimp who wrote books to talk about his life as a hustler and street pimp. His story is historical literature.
- Another form of history includes theatrical works like blaxploitation films. Every culture glorifies gang or mob culture as cunning businessmen, and ours is used to demonize and racially profile us.
We should take the good parts of the ugly and celebrate it.
We aren't just slavery and civil rights or any other uncomfortable parts of history.
Our experiences shape us. Discussing all aspects of our culture dismantles white appropriation of our culture. We are everyday life, and our everyday parts of life should be celebrated and learned from.
We are contributors, producers, world changers and we deserve to have our lives included in American history.
This isn't about critical race theory. Black history is a piece of the American fabric that holds our country together and denying our history could be the thread that will unravel it.
It all depends on those who have constantly denied our presence. American history hasn't been all inclusive. It has been exclusive, a part of a white patriarchal society that tells the stories of the victors. History has been a narrative that we don't deny.
If we do not have a history, we have no place.
It's as if it's by design. It's quite important to see ourselves in the history books. I will continue to express this until my last breath.
Read more about Gregory:
Read: Black History Month reflections by Black Iowans
- Top Black Iowa Democrats: 'Black history is Iowa's history'
- Black Iowa parent: Teaching history without Black culture is 'reminder of how systemic racism continues' its cycle
- Black Iowa activist, TEDx speaker: 'Survival is our cultural ethos'
- Black Iowa professor, musician: 'If it were left up to my schools, I would have never learned the truth of my history'
- Black Iowa lawmaker slams Black History Month tributes at the state Capitol by those seeking 'to block Black History being taught'
- Black Iowa community servant: 'When I think of all the things Blacks have endured in America, I am inspired'
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Share your opinion with Black Iowa News
To celebrate Black History Month, Black Iowa News will publish short original quotes from Black Iowans on the topics of Black history and voting rights. Email your quote, city, short bio and photo to Dana James, founder of Black Iowa News: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner: Black History Month art by Christopher Harrison, of Harrison Art Studio.
Learn about Carter G. Woodson and the origins of Black History Month.