Our view: The history’s not over

DKS Editors

In 1855, a man named John Mercer Langston became the first black man to be elected to a local office. It was in the small town of Brownhelm Township, Ohio.

He wasn’t the first black man to make history, but it was certainly a milestone.

Just weeks ago, President Barack Obama was sworn in as the first black president of the United States, meeting yet another milestone. The nation watched as he, too, made history.

And just because a black man now holds the highest office in the United States, the history’s not over.

Yesterday, this year’s celebration of Black History Month began. Every year since 1926, Americans have paused during the month of February to celebrate the history that so many blacks have made. People like Langston met their own milestones to make events like Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration possible.

Remember those milestones.

Remember Alexander Lucius Twilight, who was the first black to graduate college in America. In 1823, he received his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and later went on to become the principal of the Orleans County Grammar School in Brownington, Vt.

Remember Bessie Coleman, the first black licensed pilot, and Ralph J. Bunche, who mediated the Arab-Israeli truce, and in turn, became the first black to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Remember those who may not be in our history books – the family members who may have been forced to ride in the back of buses. Remember every one of the slaves, who put in hours of labor only to be treated as lesser beings.

Honor the professors here at Kent State who dedicate their careers to teaching the black experience and the organizations that seek to inform the campus.

We know we’ve come a long way in America since the age of slavery. In fact, there are people living today who once couldn’t vote because of their race, but got a chance to vote for a black man as president of the United States. That’s a pretty significant journey that the United States has made during the span of one lifetime.

But why stop there?

Even though America’s made an achievement that some never thought possible, we need to remember those who came before, and those who are still to come.

If, when Langston became the first elected local official, we stopped being proud of blacks’ history, we might have lost hope that Obama could do what he did.

Black history, just like any other history, is still being made. Don’t forget what those who came before us have done. The sky’s the limit to what we can still accomplish.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.