Black History Month
February is a very important month for education, it is recognized as Black History Month, a very important time to acknowledge the past and history for any person of colour. February is a month for all of the achievements of African-Americans throughout history. Since 1976, U.S presidents have dedicated February as African-American History Month/Black History Month. The U.S. is not the only country to celebrate this month, other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have acknowledged this month and celebrate.
Two Mishawaka High students gave their thoughts today, speaking about their viewpoints and importance to them on this celebration. Bree Echols and another student who asked to stay anonymous, who will be called Jane Doe. On the topic of Black History Month, Echols stated “We get to honor our ancestors and the people that paved the way for us today,” she explained how it is “The one time that everybody gets to congregate and talk about the specific aspects of Black culture.”As well as Doe adding, “Black History Month to me means a month to celebrate the beauty and resilience that comes with Black culture.” It is very obvious that this month is very significant to many Black Americans
Historian Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland announced “Negro History Week” in 1925, and its first celebration occurred in 1926. In 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment came into play, abolishing slavery inside the United States, Woodson and Moorland worked together and founded the ASNLH (Association for the Study of Negro Life and History), which put its time into researching the history of African Americans.
Did you know Black History Month was not always a whole month? “Negro History Week” used to be the second week of February that coincided with former President Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Black History Clubs started to pop up, teachers began creating materials to teach students, and performances and lectures became part of local celebrations.
Later, in 1950 when Woodson passed away, “Negro History Week” has become a very important part of Black American lives, and the celebrations only kept growing from then. For the decades to follow, the acknowledgement and recognition grew more and more. A movement in the 1960’s called “The Black Awakening'' expanded the want to acknowledgement and importance of Black history. And from the Civil Rights movement, this pushed people of all colours on the focus of African American contributions to History and Culture.
In 1976, the week-long celebration was stretched out to the whole month of February. President Gerald R. Ford was the first to recognize this celebration who urged his citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
50 years after the first celebration, Black History Month was first celebrated in full and the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of this month and Black history. Ever since then, every February we continue to recognize this celebration and the history. As well as the new group, ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) continues to promote the education of Black History all year around.
Curious as to what they thought of when they heard the title “Black History Month”. Echols said, “I think of music associated with our culture...the struggles that our ancestors had to endure in the past. How resilient and compassionate we had to be in order to overcome those adversities together”
Doe also shared their thoughts, and stated that “I think of the historical events that have brought us to where we are today as well as recent events...it’s important that we give the black community the love and appreciation of celebrating their culture and their creations.”
During these events, there were many people who fought to make the world more equal despite the colour of their skin. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement, was responsible for many peaceful protests, including the March on Washington in 1963.
There were many other people that had amazing accomplishments during this time. And recognizing these achievements is an important part of Black American History. Some of these people are; George Washington Carver, an American agricultural scientist, Mae C. Jemison, an American Engineer who was also the first Black American woman in space, and Langston Hughes who was a popular American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. All of those people listed and many more made amazing achievements that we all acknowledge today with Black History.
One last worry was brought up, is Black History Month getting downplayed? Many schools may not be talking about the history as much as before, Doe stated; “This year especially I feel like this month has been kind of downplayed and mostly used for jokes instead of genuinely taking the time to appreciate and respect the month,” continuing with, “there’s not as much talked about as I personally would like to see.”
Echols agreed with Doe, following up with “I do feel as if Black History Month is downplayed and not mentioned as much as it could be.” Is there any way we could change this? Echols said yes, stating “If it was expressed more often in the media and taught to the younger and future generation.”
Black History Month is a big celebration, for all Black Americans expressing their culture and background. All of this is necessary to learn the backbone of history. People are all here for a reason, let's spend more time learning about the history of it.