2020 marks the 95th year that this great country has annually acknowledged in the month of February the achievements of its African American population. Blacks and Black History Month have come along way in that short span of time. Here’s a look at the story behind Black History Month.
The origins of Black History Month date back to the 1920s. What started out as “Negro History Week” back in 1926, fifty years later became what we now know as “Black History Month”. In my research I was unable to uncover the reason for the extension but one can only speculate that it became obvious that our multitudinous contributions could not be covered in just one week. And, now we are able to add to that long list of inventions, records broken, etcetera; the boastful fact of an African-American President of these United States.
Negro History Week was the second week of February between the Birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The week long celebration was started by Dr. Carter G Woodson who was the son of former slaves. But, even with his humble beginnings Woodson went on to earn a PhD from Harvard University. (The first African-American to earn a PhD from Harvard University was Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who founded the NAACP on the 12th of this month 1909, and whose birthday is on the 23rd). Dr. Woodson is widely referred to as the Father of Black History, and probably had the biggest impact when we think about the origins of Black History Month.
Dr. Woodson began the Negro History Week after becoming dissatisfied with the lack of presence that African-Americans had in the history books. The week was designed to bring to the attention and magnify the accomplishments of African-Americans. It has achieved that and more especially after evolving into a month long celebration.
Thankfully we now know what may have otherwise been hidden or merely passed down like a bad game of telephone with inaccurate information. Now young African Americans can review the accomplishments of other individuals that had the same “limitations” in terms of skin color, and yet still made significant contributions. With this insight we should be empowered realizing that the real limitations are now limited to each individual and we have more access and opportunities than ever before even to the doors of the White House. We should never play the race card considering this rich history of ours even if it is abundantly clear that a situation is racially motivated. I am sure that if President Obama had lost the election we would have said that it was because he was Black. But he didn’t lose and that takes the excuse out of our mouths. We can tell our children that they can be anything they want to be if they set their mind to it and this includes areas we have not yet touched. We can be the first in many more areas as we have been the first in so many already.
As we celebrate our history of accomplishments throughout the balance of this month let us teach our children the story behind Black History Month. Let us review the impact African-Americans have made to daily life. Let us reminisce on the origins of and the story behind Black History Month and the people who helped make it this month long celebration. When you comb your hair, tie your shoes, pass through a stop light or even use a remote remember and appreciate those who made it possible.
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