Celebrating Black History Month
Updated: Mar 2
In 1926 Carter G. Woodson, a historian from Harvard created what was then, Negro History Week. However, in 1976, President Ford increased Negro History Week to Negro History Month. In his words, the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of African-Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The celebration of Black History Month has been a significant subject of criticism from African-Americans and also people of other races. It has been argued that it is not fair to allocate an entire month to a single racial group, while some argue that one month is not sufficient enough and that it gives others the opportunity to disregard the many accomplishments of African-Americans as a whole though the remaining eleven months.
As an African-American woman, I do whole-heartedly believe that there is an extremely positive outcome in allocating February as a month that celebrates the many overlooked contributions made by African-Americans to this nation’s history.
Celebrating black history honors the many positive influences of the black community. Things highlighted in the African-American culture are often too negative. Everyday we are bombarded with images and videos that emphasize drugs, gangs, and reality TV stars via the media. We are constantly reminded of things like poverty and dropout rates. This makes it important that we take time to validate the efforts of those that strive to create a better future by reflecting on the past.
Black History Month is a time where everyone in the nation can take a moment and recognize that black people are more than the stereotypes placed upon them and that black history is not JUST black history; it is also a part of American History.
Designating a month to black history also counteracts the under representation in the school system. The discussions of slavery and segregation have filled every history classroom wall in the United States for decades. African-Americans are severely underrepresented in history curriculum and celebrating black history provides the upcoming generations with a chance to really understand the depth of their history.
Celebrating black history highlights the fact that African-Americans are more than slavery and Jim Crow Laws; that African-Americans can do more than sing and dance; that African-Americans are scientists, doctors, lawyers, architects, mathematicians, educators. Overall making them one of the most significant but under acknowledged pieces of the American History puzzle.