The origin of Black History Month can be traced back to Carter G. Wilson who was an African American historian
educator. Woodson in 1926 developed the idea of dedicating a week in February to celebrate the contributions and
achievements of African Americans. He considered February because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick
Douglass and Abraham Lincoln two figures who played a significant role in the improvement of Black American Lives. At
its inception, Black History was largely neglected and, in many cases, misrepresented in American history textbooks and
curricula. In Woodson’s view recognizing and preserving African American history helped to address these omissions and
Black History Month served as a platform to showcase the significant contributions of African Americans to America in
various fields, including science, arts, literature, politics and sports. This celebration aimed to challenge prevailing
stereotypes and promote accurate understanding of African American history.
Celebrating Black History Month served as a tool to empowering African Americans. During the 1950s and 1960s, it
gained renewed significance. It helped instilled pride and increased focus on the heritage and cultural achievements of
African Americans, showcasing the richness of the African American spirit despite centuries of oppression.
Black History Month played a crucial role in raising awareness among both black and non-black Americans. It contributed to changing public perceptions and fostering empathy and support for the civil rights movement.
The establishment of Black History Month in schools, colleges, and universities further legitimized the study of African American history as an academic discipline. It led to the development of African American programs and departments, enabling scholars to dig deeper into this rich history leading to greater understanding as to the significant role African Americans played in the transformation of the American culture.
By highlighting the achievements of African American trailblazers and civil rights leaders, Black History Month has inspired future generations to continue the fight for racial equity and a more equal and just society. It emphasizes the importance of social justice and equal rights for all.
Black History Month celebrations often delve into the history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination in the United States, and the resulting systemic racism and social injustice. By examining the history, individuals can better understand the origins of these problems and their lasting impact.
Celebrating Black History Month, allows for increased visibility of African American experiences and contributions in various aspects of society. This heightened awareness often leads to dialogue to address social injustice, encouraging individuals to confront these issues and can serve as an impetus for a more harmonious society.
Black History Month recognizes that the struggle against racism is interconnected with other forms of oppression and discrimination, such as sexism, homophobia, and economic inequality. It provides a forum for discussing the intersectionality and importance of addressing the multiple dimensions of inequality.
The increased awareness and discussions generated during Black History Month often lead to advocacy efforts aimed at policy change. Individuals and organizations may use this time to call for reforms in areas like education, housing criminal justice and healthcare.
Black History Month invites people from all racial backgrounds to ally together in the fight for equality, fairness and social justice for all. The celebrations recognitions can help to inspire and encourage people from all racial and socio-economic backgrounds to educate themselves, to show solidarity, and actively support and seek to achieve racial and social equality for all.
Black History Month is not without its criticisms and challenges. Common criticisms are the risk of tokenization and the argument that Black History Month should not be highlighted, rather it should be accepted that Black History is an integral part of the American experience and there is no need for a special call out.
Tokenization risks reducing this celebration to symbolic gestures, failing to address the deep-rooted systemic racism and social injustice. Moreover, confining African American history to a single month may unintentionally suggest its marginality in the broader American narrative.
However, the stark reality of historical and recent events- from the thousands of lynchings post-Civil War to the killings of George Floyd and Ahmaund Arbery - reaffirms the urgent need for this observance.
Celebrating Black History month fosters unity, understanding, and awareness. It helps to bring attention to our commitment to racial equity and social justice. It can also serve as a catalyst to continue the dialogue about how we all should work to make our communities, our societies and our country a more just and equal place.
The celebration of Black History month is a call to action, a call to be a better advocate for justice, a call for us to work collectively towards making our world a better place. A call for us to work towards breaking down the walls of stereotyping and systemic racism.
A call to commit to lifelong learning to personal growth that can lead to a better appreciation and understanding of our differences and how these differences have helped make our nation the great nation that it is.
It is a call to action to bring us to where every month is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity, resilience and contributions of African Americans.
It is a call to action, so we can all be dedicated to the principles of equality and justice, to remain steadfast, unwavering and unceasing in the pursuit of fairness.
Black History Month is not just a commemoration. It is a call to action to all of us to work towards a more inclusive and just society for all.
Celebrating Black History Month – is an acknowledgement of our collective achievements as a nation and a commitment to continue building on these foundations, ensuring equality for all irrespective of race or gender