What is Black History Month?
I remember being in middle school and high school where it was common to focus on Black History Month in February. We would watch movies on the Civil Rights Movement and do projects dedicated to the month. In college, at least where I attend, it’s not a priority to discuss African American history. Maybe because at this point, most of us are familiar with the events that transpired in the days of harsh racism. However, for those of you who are unsure what Black History Month is about, here’s a little primer.
The History of Black History Month
Before Black History Month, there was “Negro History Week” created by African American scholar, educator, and publisher Carter G. Woodson in 1926. It turned into a month-long celebration in 1976. February was the chosen month due to the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery and escaped to become a world-renowned slavery activist, and Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation granted freedom to slaves.
It’s easy for Black History Month to get swallowed into the background in today’s time. It seems the recent politics have brought back ghosts of racism’s past. Though racism has never fully faded away from American culture, it seems to have escalated over the last few years. Black History Month is a time to recognize the obstacles African Americans have faced and the brave souls who stood up for our rights. Not only is the month used to remember the struggles faced by people of color, but also accomplishments made by the black community, that often don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve. Some notable achievements include:
Madam C.J. Walker, who was America’s first woman to become a self-made millionaire.
George Washington Carver, who obtained over 200 products from peanuts, including milk and cheese.
Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 and served several years.
Then we have the people such as the famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who fought extremely hard for African American rights, leading marches and movements of non-violent activism.
Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus, leading to the bus boycott that would eventually overturn Montgomery, AL city ordinance allowing for segregated seating on city buses.
Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and helped thousands of other slaves escape with the notorious Underground Railroad, a network of abolitionists who worked together to help usher slaves to freedom. If it were not for the brave souls who risked their lives for freedom, who knows what the world would be like today?
When you have free time, do some research on African American history and get reacquainted with the information. There are so many strong individuals of color who achieved remarkable things and worked towards making the world a better place who may not have. It is truly amazing how far we have come as a nation with the abolition of slavery, desegregation, and more opportunities for people of color. It is a hope that we continue to move towards the light of full equality and leave skin color out of the equation.