Black History Month is annually celebrated in the month of February and is dedicated to recognizing the achievements of black Americans and understanding their significant contributions to our country. The official government website of African American History Month says it was a created as a “tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.” But what many may not know, is how Black History Month began.
What is the history of Black History Month?
The celebration was first created by a man named Carter G. Woodson, a historian who studied at Harvard University. Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting the achievements and history of black Americans. The ASNLH sponsored a National Negro History Week in 1926, and this celebration sparked Americans to want to learn more about black history and to teach it to others. Eventually, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history.
Because of the Civil Rights Movement, Negro History Week expanded into Black History Month on many college campuses. Black History Month was first officially recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. In his public statement he said to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year the ASNLH held the first official African American History Month. Since then, each American president has issued an African American History Month proclamation.
Why do we celebrate Black History Month?
Carter G. Woodson has stated before that he created Black History Month not only to celebrate black Americans, but to recognize how they have struggled in history, facing racism in their everyday lives. Their struggle has been and is often neglected. There are many accounts of black Americans being erased from history, and even though we should celebrate black history all year long, Black History Month is a time for America as a whole to recognize these impressive individuals and their accomplishments.
Black History Month is not only a time to recognize the struggle for black Americans in the past, but also in the present. While it’s hard to admit, racism has been a part of America since the beginning, causing it to be ingrained in our society, making it systematic. Because it’s systematic, racism can be found almost anywhere, such as in our educational system, in the medical field, law enforcement, the economy, our government, in the workplace, and in many other aspects of our society. All in all, Black History Month is a time for America to celebrate the achievements of black Americans in history, the black Americans’ struggle with racism in history, and the black Americans’ struggle with racism today.