Although we are on day 11 of 28 in the month of February, aka Black History Month, let’s continue to celebrate and understand the cruciality of the valuable notions of both Change and Remembrance, when acknowledging the contributions of the Black community.
Let's start on the knowledge part of Black History Month, shall we?
It all began with an idea by Mr. Carter G Woodson, that emerged from frustration and the belief that Black people should know their past in order to participate intelligently in society. This is the foundation on which we now celebrate Black History Month every February, every year.
While studying for his master’s degree at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D from Harvard, Mr. Woodson observed the intentional misinterpretation of people of color in all aspects of society, including books, even the conversations that shaped the study of American history and much more.
In 1915, he and Jesse E. Moorland, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now the Association for Study African American Life and History (ASALAH), an organization dedicated to promoting the proper study of Black history as a celebration of the rights and significant accomplishments of African Americans.
Woodson famously said: " If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition it becomes a negligible factor, in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated."
Eleven years later, in 1926, ASALAH launched "Negro History Week" to bring attention, awareness and understanding of the contributions of Black people. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass (Feb 14), and Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12), two key figures in Black liberation.
The celebrations and education of Black History spread swiftly, increasing interest in educational materials and encouraging the development of Black history organizations. Although a newfound knowledge of Black history, culture and literature was growing amongst the intermediate class, increasing the week to a month did not occur until many decades later. During the Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Schools in the South encompassed the week and its educational information to the curriculum. However, by the mid-1960s, the most common textbook for eighth-grade U.S. history courses considered only two Black people in the whole era of events following the Civil War—a problem that could no longer be overlooked. In that decade, higher education institutions and universities across the nation converted the week into a Black History Month.
Several administrators had incorporated the celebration as community development by the time President Gerald Ford declared Black History Month a nationwide awareness initiative in 1976, on both the fiftieth anniversary of the first Negro History Week and bicentennial of the United States.
In celebrating Black History Month, Ford announced, "we need to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
So much good can come from devoting a season to remembering a people who have made priceless deposits into the account of history. Here are some ways you can celebrate and reflect on the immense contributions of Black people for the rest of Black History Month.
Engage in self-education. Be intentional about finding new information about different pioneers each day or week.
Try to make charitable donations to Black Businesses or charities that will assist the Black community.
Use your social media platforms to spread awareness of the past, present, or current events that made or are making history.
Read or purchase books from established or upcoming Black authors/writers.
All too often, only the most negative aspects of Black culture and communities get highlighted, but may this month spur you to seek out and lift up the best in Black accomplishments.
Now that you’re aware of the origins and how you and your loved ones can celebrate and reflect on Black history, enjoy and expand your horizon on how Black History is in fact World History.