On Monday February 24, 2020, I created the space for 400 students and staff at Wickliffe High School to “Tap In” to the legacy of Black History Month (50th Anniversary Celebration), the pioneers of Black History Month, the Great Jameel Davis and the many people who have and are currently contributing to our cultural advancement. Thank You Wickliffe High School for opening your doors for me.

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First and foremost, we give thanks to our creator for another day of life, despite where we are in our lives, the struggles and successes we have experienced, we are here again and together. The gift of life is the greatest gift of all and nothing else truly matters except the love you receive from those who matter most.

My name is Jameel Davis and I am a self-motivated black man. My purpose is to be the change in society by striving for success and helping as many people as I can along the way. I offer a mind filled with the intelligence I need to make it to the top. I offer a heart filled with love that is ready to explode, I offer strength and effort that allows me to take on any challenge and I don’t give up easily. One who gives up easily, is considered lazy and weak, therefore I work hard at every task. Working hard allows me to turn hard obstacles into easy ones and hard work builds my character and self confidence. I look up to myself because I’m superior than many, at the same level as most and not too far from the ones at the top. Who am I? I am Jameel. Who is Jameel? a man of my word, a leader, filled with pride, courage, love, intelligence, humor, respect, confidence. And most of all, I am a black man with a plan. My plan is to act as a magnet and attract all that I need, in order to succeed and to be a change for myself and society. I am a man, a black man, I am Jameel.

Next, I would like to give thanks to Mr. Balduff for inviting me to Wickliffe High School to speak to you all today in honor of black history month.


This month of February, marks the 50th anniversary of Black History Month, and I would like to thank Wickliffe High School for celebrating the accomplishments and legacy of many people of color, who have come before us, and those who are currently paving the way for generations to come.


50 Years ago, in 1970 — four Pioneers thought of, recorded and celebrated the first Black History Month. Those pioneers were students Carl Gregory and Dwayne White, and school Administrators, Dr. Edward Crosby and Dr. Milton Wilson Jr., All men of color and all apart of Kent State University. My alma mater.


Some may argue, Carter G. Woodson is the man behind black history month, and I will argue that he is the man behind “Black History Week,” better known as “Negro Week.” Woodson’s annual celebration of negro week caught the attention of Kent State Students, Carl Gregory and Dewayne White. Carl and Dewayne indicated at the time, the achievements of people of color should be celebrated longer than a week and should be celebrated the entire month of February. So they got to work and worked collectively with Dr. Crosby who created Kent State University’s Black Studies Program, now known as the Department of Pan-African Studies, and Dr. Wilson jr., who was the first Dean of Human Relations, to establish and record the first Black History Month.

It is with great honor and respect that I express my gratitude to Carter G. Woodson, Carl Gregory, Dewayne White, Dr. Edward Crosby, Dr. Milon Wilson jr. and Kent State University for developing the idea of highlighting the achievements of people of color, and for their role in establishing Black History Month. If it wasn’t for those pioneers and my alma mater Kent State University, we would not be celebrating 50 years of Black History Month today.

Let’s give a round of applause for 50 Years of Black History Month, the pioneers who made it all possible, and the many people who have contributed and currently contribute toward the legacy of people of color, as well as many who have and are making the world a better place to live.


This 50th year of Black History Month is very dear to me because, on Saturday February 15, 2020, Kent State University held their 50 Years of Black History Celebration in the very same building where it all started in 1970. I found out about the event via Facebook and was fortunate enough to attend as a regular guest; forgetting all about being a Kent State alumni.

When I arrived at Cartwright Hall, I sat next to a current student of Kent State and member of the Black United Students (BUS) organization, who I had met on a recent visit to Kent. Black United Students is the first organization of it’s kind in the country. Started in 1968, BUS developed into an organization recognized for its advocacy of social justice for people of color, and African-American students in particular. Today, their philosophy is to serve and unify all black students at Kent State University by addressing their needs.

While engaged in a small chat, I heard my 7 year old son shout, “Daddy look, you are on the screen.” So, I turned and looked and I saw a photograph of me on the screen, with a short bio, one of my quotes, along with the title, “African-American Alumni Making History.” I then noticed everyone looking over in my direction smiling and I could not help but to smile in return. I quickly pulled out my phone and snapped a picture of the screen before the slide show changed.


After capturing the photo, I thought to myself:

How do they know about me?

Why wasn’t I formally invited to attend the event?

or why wasn’t I notified about being included in the presentation?

Who is the person behind this presentation?

I thought deeper and said to myself, “many people of color have graduated from Kent State University since 1970, why was I included in the 50th Anniversary Celebration presentation of Black History along with Josh Cribbs, Steve Harvey, Don King, Arsenio Hall, Wayne Dawson, and several other Kent State Alumni who have made their mark in the world?” I am somebody, but why me out of all of the African-American Alumni who have obtained their degree from Kent State since 1970. Why the 50th Anniversary Celebration?

As the ceremony continued, I remembered. Back on January 16, 2020, I received an email from Kent State University Alumni association informing me that I have been nominated for the 2020 Distinguished Citizen Award, which had caught me by total surprise.

CULTIVATINGMINDS_

Moments later, I was asked to stand to be recognized as an honoree.

The school that helped four men of color establish black history month in 1970, a cultural celebration that is celebrated annually worldwide, the school in which I obtained my Bachelors of Arts Degree from in 2013, had featured me in their 50th Anniversary Celebration that honored and awarded the four pioneers of Black History Month. For me, that is a pretty amazing accomplishment, given the cards I was dealt early in life. 

However, because I have dedicated my life towards promoting kindness, love, understanding and hope to whomever I come in contact with, and because I do everything with love and respect, such moments of excellence naturally unfolds. Violating the human rights of others and having a negative attitude toward others will not foster success.


I could not highlight my black history month experience or speak on Black History without first paying homage to the gentlemen and institution who thought of and implemented the idea of honoring the achievements of people of Color. And because of them, I am very grateful for being a man of color today, who is recognized and honored for my investment in my community and beyond. It is a proud black man moment for me, especially being invited here today, with my son, to share my knowledge and story with you all. Thank you for this moment in history.


Although black history month is known for highlighting people of color who have made major contributions to society, I don’t want to take away from your contributions big or small, towards the advancement of people of color, because you all are just as important to Black History as we are.

You do not need to make a popular media outlet’s headline in order to make a difference. You do not need to have a million followers, likes and comments on social media in order to make a difference. You do not need world validation in order to make a difference. You do not need to be a millionaire or billionaire in order to make a difference. All you need is you. Do things because it’s true for you to do and with love, not because you have been influenced by others to do it.

It’s important that we document our history, because if we do not document our history, then our legacy dies. I am not speaking only to black people, but to people in general. How do we keep our legacy alive, by documenting our stories through images and writing. If photographers, videographers, journalists and media outlets aren’t reaching out to cover your story, it’s important that you take your own pictures and videos, and write your own articles and books, so that you can share it with those who will come after you and those who will be inspired by your leadership. 

Black history is more than just people from the past, it’s more than just people who make popular headlines, it’s more than just people who are the first to do something. Black history is you, it’s me, it’s everything that we do. Us breathing alone is Black History and I am thankful that we all are joined here today celebrating Black History Month.

Malakai

I know Carter G. Woodson is the father of Negro Week, and Carl, Dewayne, Dr. Edward and Dr. Milton are the fathers of Black History Month, but I believe the awards, achievements, and the sacrifices people of color have made and currently make for the betterment of our culture and society should be celebrated three-hundred and sixty five days a year. And I believe those who are catering to the destruction of our culture and race should not be recognized, celebrated or highlighted in any fashion. Because negativity is the cause of disease, destruction and disaster. Positivity and Love creates a better living environment for all.

Before I go, I would like to leave you all with a poem I’ve written titled, “We Are More Than Just A Color.” And this poem will tell you why people of color are of value, why we should be honored and respected, and why our contributions to society should be celebrated 365 days a year.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the stars, the earth, the sun and the moon, We are perfectly aligned with pyramids, creating birthday signs and seasons, like Cancers kicking off the summer in June.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the diamonds and gold, your oils and fruits, We are the coco to your chocolate bar, and rubber to your boots.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the spirits and vibrations, the language and rules,The numbers, religion, science, inventions and tools.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the hunters and fishermen, the blueprints and machines,we are the homes and their keys, the jackets and jeans. We are electricity, we are the phones, we are the cars in the street, we are the firewood and coal that provide the buildings we’ve built with heat.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the music, the films, the arts and sports,mother liberty is really an African woman, you know the statue in New York?

The French gave it to America as a gift because they wanted our enslavement to end, America changed her features, kept us on plantations feeding cotton to gin.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are the stocks and bonds, we are Wall Street, We are the victories of War, with no honorable mentions on history sheets.

In 1921, our rich town was burned to concrete, because after we won WWI, many white Americans had no money or no place to sleep. As a result they turned into wolves and we turned into sheep.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are not negros, pickaninnies, monkeys, nor apes, we are the original royal family, that society took centuries to reshape.

We Are More Than Just A Color

Most of the world don’t want you to know how great you really are, that’s why they hide it away, feed us illusions and have torn our families apart.

We are more than just people on the back of the bus, almost everything you see and do, you can believe it originated from us.

We Are More Than Just A Color

We are 365 days a year, We are the most intelligent beings alive, Lets celebrate that with cheer.

Thank you, Jameel Davis


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