Black History Month has always been a time for reflection and for the recognition of those who have been able to move Black people forward in all facets of life. Rolling out spoke to the CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History, Perri L. Irmer, about the importance of Black History Month and why we should continue to educate our youth about the greatness of Black people.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Dr. King and all of our Black leaders?
Dr. King not only was a great leader and a great man but an inspiration to all people specifically African Americans. You can look around and see what’s happening and realize there is so much more work to be done. The importance in my mind of making sure we continue educating our children about Dr. King and all of our other Black leaders, is because we are who made this country. America couldn’t exist without us.
Talk about the importance of Black children seeing people who look like them doing great things.
It’s so important now especially for our children that they have a self perception of greatness and a self expectation of success. All they seem to hear on the news and everywhere is the opposite of that. It’s our obligation to teach them this positivity. We need to get our youth who are of voting age engaged in the civic process and that starts very young. Education is above everything and if our story isn’t out there the way it needs to be told then we are at the mercy of others.
What will the DuSable Museum look like in 20 years?
Well, we are in an expansion plan. We are looking to gain our full accreditation as a museum. We are looking to open up our beautiful roundhouse and quadruple our gallery space. As I said, education is above all, so I’d like to see the DuSable be a museum and an education center where we can actually have classes that instruct teachers how to teach Black history. I envision having classes where people can come at any point in their lifetime to learn more about a particular issue of history and also policy.
What must Black people do to move forward and achieve our full potential?
Unfortunately, we have kind of accepted a certain way of doing things, a certain kind of externally limited view of what we can and cannot do. It’s so important to start before slavery. I try to get through to our young people that slavery is not our origin story. It was a portion of time that damaged us. All of the issues you see today stem from enslavement. Even the mental picture of ourselves is almost like a post traumatic syndrome that we are still going through. So to get beyond that we have to go before that. Our children need to understand that they are the descendants of kings and queens and wisemen and leaders.