The who and why of Black History Month

Black History Month is a national holiday in February that celebrates the African-American community. It reflects on the community’s hardships, racial injustices and the events they have overcome throughout the years. Not only does this national celebration commemorate the negatives, but it also salutes the contributions the black community has made for this country.

Who founded Black History Month?

The founder of Black History Month was Carter G. Woodson. His parents and other relatives endured slavery, which prompted him to become a historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University. It was soon made apparent to Woodson that many lacked the knowledge of the struggles the black community had endured, but also the accomplishments the community had achieved. From there he established the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1926 he proposed Black history week. During this week every student was supposed to show what they had learned about Black history from throughout the school year.

However it was not until 1976 that President Gerald Ford transformed Black history week into what we now know as Black History Month explaining "In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers."

Why is Black History Month commemorated in February?

Some of the most famous contributors to the African American community, such as Frederick Douglass (former escaped slave and abolitionist) and Abraham Lincoln (famous for helping abolish slavery), had birthdays that occurred during the month of February. The 13th Amendment, the amendment that abolished slavery, was passed on February 1, 1865. This date was advocated to become national Freedom Day by Richard Wright who was also a former slave and Black rights activist. These events were major contributors to why Black History Month is celebrated in February.

Why is this month’s celebration important?

It is important for all Americans to understand the importance and the severity of African American history. Woodson placed emphasis on this when stating, “those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

We as Americans need to understand the racial injustices the black community has faced and we need to overcome the failures of our ancestors. This month should also be used as inspiration for the African American and colored communities. We should celebrate the trials and tribulations the black community has overcome, while still commemorating the contributions the community has made to our country.

Celebrate this month and stay informed about Black history!


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