Black History Month is Time for Reflection on Past, Future
By Walter McCarty
I am proud to be a member of the Boston Celtics organization, but I am especially honored during Black History Month. This franchise was a pioneer in the integration of professional sports in the United States - the first NBA team to draft an African-American player, the first team in the NBA to field an African-American starting five, and the first team in professional sports to have an African-American head coach.
I have benefited so much from the sacrifices those who came before me. In my role as a Celtics player and a leader, it is important to know about the people who opened up the doors for me. I enjoy reading about Black history, especially learning about the important contributions to society that African-Americans have made - not just athletes and entertainers, but also inventors, scientists, doctors, lawyers and teachers. Teaching our youth about these pioneers can help inspire kids who might otherwise think, "I can't become this" or "I can't do that."
Black History Month should not just be a time for learning and reflection - it needs to be one of action. It is vital that we do everything we can to help make our communities better and safer places to live and work. There will be a day when future generations look back on us and ask, "What did they do? What did they do to help us become a better race, a better culture, a better world?" Step out and take a risk. Try to learn new things; to improve, you must expand your mind.
Throughout the month of February, I will be working with the Celtics and Amtrak on a program that gives me the opportunity to share my love of history with young people. One of my favorite elements of the celebration is the "Promote the Quote", which uses the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to teach them about one of the most trying times in our history, the Civil Rights movement. It also demonstrates that, although the struggles may have changed, his words remain as powerful and relevant as ever. Children today must be educated about our past, and use that knowledge to feel empowered to make a difference in their future.
Black History is not just for African-Americans - it is for all. We must learn about our rich heritage and embrace the people who helped shape it. Black History Month gives us the chance to reflect on how far we have come - and remember how far we have left to go.
First published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette