BY: EBENEZER NKUNDA
It is February, Black History Month. A month where in many schools, students will be learning about historical black figures and events that were pivotal in making the United States what it is today. This is an amazing month, but how did it come to be?
Carter G. Woodson was the son of former slaves. He spent his childhood working in coal mines and Quarries. At nineteen years old, he entered high school, finishing in only two years. He later went on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard. As he was in school he saw how black people were not represented in books and history as they should be. He claimed that as he was in school, Black Americans were cut out of the story of shaping America in history lessons, a blatant falsehood. He became unsettled by this information, so in 1915, Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, an associate of his, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now referred to as The Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The organization was made to promote studying black history and celebrate the accomplishments of Africans Americans. In 1926, Woodson launched Negro History Week to help schools teach about important black history. Woodson chose the second week of February for his celebration because it marks the birthdays of two men who have incredibly impacted the lives of Black Americans. Those two men are Frederick Douglass, who even though he did not know his actual birthday, celebrated it on February 14 and Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is on February 12. Many mayors accepted this week in their cities until it was made a national observance as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Schools today now use this month to teach about many black important figures and it’s no secret, MLK, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks get a lot of attention. This month is so much more than learning about important black figures in history. It is a way to fight the invisibility and negative imagery of black people that still exist today. In a society where black people have historically and systematically been viewed as less than, Black history months’ goal is to inspire and instill pride in the black community for generations to come. Black History Month is so much more than a month, it’s a lifestyle that is year-round. It’s a reminder that a month is not enough to educate. The attention that Black history and black people get throughout February must be year-round because it matters. So I encourage you, learn something new, support black business, stand up, and show your support not just in February, but all year.