What Black History Month Means to Me, a Matlock Series

Cheree Anderson by Cheree Anderson, Project Coordinator, Matlock Atlanta

In grade school, I learned about our country’s Founding Fathers, I was tested on my knowledge of the first pilgrimages to America. My English lessons introduced me to the great writers and poets of our time. Science class presented a different view of my world and allowed me to experiment with ideas. I was a sponge. I absorbed all of this information and could recite it at will. However, no matter how much knowledge I gained or how “smart” I thought I was, I always felt like I wasn’t as good as some of my fellow classmates.

In 3rd grade all of that changed. This was the first time I can remember actively participating in Black History Month at school. It was then that I learned of the contributions African-Americans (or freed slaves) had made to our modern-age. I was astounded by innovations that would not have been if not for my ancestors. You see, I had countless lessons about the great Thomas Edison… inventor of the light bulb, but it wasn’t until Black History Month that I learned about Lewis Latimer who invented the most important part of the light bulb — the carbon filament. From the cotton gin to the traffic light and everything in between, African-Americans were pioneers in innovation. Learning of my ancestors’ accomplishments motivated me and provided a young Cheree with just the right amount of encouragement to feel like I, too, could do anything I put my mind to.