The importance of Black History Month

Black History Month continues to spark annual debate about the usefulness and fairness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one race.

Criticisms include questions over whether it is appropriate to confine the celebration of black history to one month (which in my opinion is not possible), as opposed to integration of black history into the mainstream education the rest of the year (which does not happen). Another criticism is that the original inspiration for Black History Month was a desire to address the fact that British schools failed to represent black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects (which is still an issue in our school systems today).

“Black History Month reduces complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of hero worship”. Is another criticism that is often brought up usually by whites. Who state that the celebration is flat out racist.

Black celebrities such as actor and director, Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized Black History Month, with Freeman saying, “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” Freeman has since argued that there is not a, “White History Month,” because white people did not want their history relegated to just one month.

To take it back, the precursor or prequel to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States. Historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be, “Negro History Week.”

This week was chosen because it aligned with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first brought up by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.

Black History Month is important and needs to continue to not only happen but thrive. It is African American’s chance to show and remind the world what we have done and the trials and tribulations we have gone through to get to where we are, and also how much strength and power and determination we have to get to where we are going.

Schools do not teach about many African American leaders or our involvement in society. Well, besides the fact that we were slaves, Martin was non-violent, and Rosa decided not to give up her seat. Yet they fail to teach us about Medgar Evers, Emmett Till.

Even black inventors are left out of our “History” books. Many of us did not know until the amazing movie, “Hidden Figures” that black women worked with NASA. I was ashamed that it took a movie to tell me this.

What about inventors such as Lewis Latimer (1848 – 1928) who invented the carbon filament for the light bulb. Otis Boykin (1920 -1982) who invented the artificial heart pacemaker control unit. Or even George R. Carruthers (1939-Present) who invented the ultraviolet camera spectrograph.

Black History Month reminds generations or African Americans that “Black Lives Matter”, “Black Girls Rock”, “Black Boys Can Have Joy” and so much more. This month also reminds other races and ethnicities the contributions made by African Americans.

Black History Month continues to spark debates, but there is no debate needed. Black History Month needs to stay.

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One thought on “The importance of Black History Month

  • July 30, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Woodson felt that the black historical experience in America had been largely ignored and distorted by the history profession in the rare instances when secondary schools and college history texts did mention African Americans in the early h century.

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