I wanted to start this post with the question what does Black History Month represent for each of us? A quick Google search to find out the origins of Black History Month turned up the fact that what is now observed as a month long tradition actually began as “Black History Week”.
How interesting our history was only initially considered to be worth note for a single week in remembering Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Both birthdays two days apart. And while I won’t get into whether or not Lincoln’s should be as celebrated as Douglass’s the fact remains both were celebrated in Black communities since the late 19th century.What would be called today (at most colleges across the nation) the “Black Student Union” of Kent State University proposed the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month in 1969. By February 1970 the first year of the celebration of Black History Month began. It was recognized by the U.S. government and celebrated informally in 1976 as part of the U.S Bicentennial.
All that said, I have mixed feelings when I think about Black History Month. On one hand I see the need for the recognition of Black History. Especially in lieu of world history & in particular American History as a whole. What happens to those whose history is forgotten? Should our collective accomplishments be relegated to footnotes and bywords? On the other hand if we can only say our history is worth mentioning on a specific month, once a year, what are we really saying?
I acknowledge that there is a need for there to be an emphasis in the teaching and learning about Black History but can that be separated of American History like the segregationist era? I’m not so sure. Black History I agree with Morgan Freeman, is American History and to be honest one month doesn’t do it nearly the justice it deserves. Am I in favor of abolishing Black History Month? I say no. Am I in favor of seeing it expand like it did in the past from a single week to a single month to a year? Absolutely.
I think all human history as part of world history is important and worth learning about all the time and year round. Maybe one day we won’t be divided by our nationalities, our ethnicities, or cultural diversities.
Maybe one day we’ll simply say in the annals of Human history…this person did this and this person did that, seeing each person as what they are… a person, a human being, a creation in the image of God, worth mentioning not for the color of his/her skin but for the mark they left on this world while they walked in it.
What are your thoughts on this?