Welcome to February everyone,
This month feature events such as Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, Super Bowl Sunday, National Wear Red Day, and National Bird-Feeding Month. However, growing up the one that meant the most in my community was Black History Month. When my parents were children their history books didn’t reflect any African-American contributions to American society. So, for me, Black History Month was an inherent part of my childhood. Moreover, this event originally began as a week long celebration, courtesy of historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History proclaimed that the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Dr. Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society. Beginning this initiative in the nation’s public schools was essential. However, the first Negro History Week was met with a less than stellar response, cooperation was gained from the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Despite the acceptance, an annual repeat of the event was planned.
By 1969, Kent State’s Black United Students proposed the week be expanded to a whole month. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970. In 1976, the informal expansion was officially recognized by the U.S. government.
The initial aim of Black History Month was to encourage the teaching of Black American’s history. Now, the current aim should be more than memorizing facts and events, but explore the various journeys of our black citizens, present and past. And unlike my parents academic upbringing, black history now has a firm place in U.S. history textbooks.
My hope for Black History Month is that it has a positive effect on everyone that chooses to celebrate it. I want the personal narratives to command a deep appreciation from its audience and change narrow minded views. Hopefully, this will bring more meaning to words in a textbook and give inspiration to all Americans.
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