This Black History Month I had planned to write a post about the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. He is inspiring a country to forgo the status quo, look past race, and consider the best person possible to run this country. Obama has supporters from around the world who are hoping for a major shift in international relations, and many at home hoping for the same and much more. Then my muse came along and my plan shifted a bit.

This morning my son came to me grinning from ear to ear with a new composition book in his hand. I thought he just wanted to show the the book itself because it was kind of cool with a wildly designed cover and bright colors. Then he opened the book and showed me the words “Shalawn as a Bear.” I asked him what it was and he replied “the title of my story.” Next he let me read his story:

once UPON a time there was a Little nice BeaR named SHALAWN WHO was Lost in the woods. the BeAR WAS HUNGRY SHe did not know

[where] to Find Food. SHe was Looking For Honey. the bear ran back into the woods [when she] Found some Honey. the end

I was blown away by his masterpiece and the pride he took in writing it. My wife told me how he came about writing his first piece of fiction last night while I was out. Basically he was bored because he was on punishment and decided to write a story. My wife helped him with the transition “when she” but that was it. The rest of the story was his. His love of the written word is no coincidence. I read to him from the day I knew that he existed. Reading Dr. Seuss’ Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go into my wife’s growing womb.

Besides conjuring the images of early fatherhood my son’s story made made me think of a more distant past. I thought about how there was a time when he would not have been taught to read or write – especially by his mother and father. A time when he may have been beaten or murdered for doing so. A time when people knew the power of the written word and purposefully kept black people from it. And here was my son writing a story at four years old simply because he could.

I will do my duty as an African American dad to not allow him to take the small things for granted. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: We stand on the shoulders of giants. All of what we have today was made possible through the fortitude of our ancestors. You have to wonder where black people and this country would be if not for the great men and women who stood for and fought for what was right. Those giants who lived and died for freedom. We did not get here alone, and we will not move forward alone.

As this powerful month, which celebrates the strength and courage of a people comes to a close this Friday none of us can afford to forget that Black history is also American history.