Students: black history is important

Tim Paluch

While Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, it might not have happened without Lewis Howard Latimer, an African American who developed and patented the process for manufacturing the first carbon filament.Without black inventor Edmond Berger, there might be no spark plugs. Without Henry Sampson, no cell phones. No Robert Flemming Jr., no guitar.Black History Month celebrates little-known African Americans like these whose accomplishments and contributions to everyday life go unnoticed for much of the year.Black students at Iowa State said Black History Month is a much-needed celebration which celebrates black culture and pays homage to those who have made an impact but failed to receive credit.Wendell Mosby, senior in apparel merchandising, design and production, said Black History Month is a lesson in “self-knowledge.””It’s a celebration of our heritage and all the unknown and unrecognized accomplishments that get left out of U.S. history high school classes,” he said. “It gives some recognition to those that normally don’t get recognition.”It also serves as a reminder of where African Americans come from and what they have gone through, said Stacie Dunlap, sophomore in apparel merchandising, design and production.”We can never forget where we come from,” said Dunlap, director of minority affairs for the Government of the Student Body. “It’s going to be hard to succeed in the future without knowing where you came from.”Black History Month, though, isn’t solely for members of the black community, said Creighton Gaynor, Buchanan Hall director.”It represents a time where everyone can learn about the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans,” he said.”For the people who are already at the point where they can celebrate the accomplishments for other people and other groups, it’s a great opportunity to learn more,” said Gaynor, graduate student in education leadership and policy studies. “But if a person isn’t interested in African American culture anyway, I doubt it will make a difference.”Mosby said the celebration for him doesn’t end with the start of March.”Not just during Black History Month, but on a weekly basis, I usually check on the Internet for sites about unknown African Americans who contributed to things,” he said.Though some say Black History Month is too short and insufficient to recognize the accomplishments of black Americans, Mosby said he doesn’t anticipate a time when those accomplishments will be recognized within the mainstream and the month-long celebration won’t be needed anymore.”I don’t think we’ll ever see that done, because there is so much written and unwritten history about African Americans who have made contributions,” he said.Gaynor, on the other hand, said he thought the time will come, but not without changes first.”I think there will be a time when you won’t need a Black History Month,” he said. “It will take a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of effort from black people, white people and everyone.”