Black History Month History

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While we celebrate Black History Month this February it is important for us to remember the history of Black History Month itself.  It is without a doubt an important part of Black history in the United States and indeed other countries as well. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of information about it online despite the fact that there has been a period of time dedicated to celebrating our history for nearly a hundred years now.

The idea of celebrating the contributions of African Americans goes all the way back to 1926 with the creation of Negro History Week.  Negro History Week was created by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which went on to become the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

It was chosen as the second week in February because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Both were dates that black communities had celebrated yearly since the 19th century.  That’s why Black History Month is celebrated in February today. But it would take a few decades to grow in popularity before we would make the transition from a week to a month.

The 1970 Start

This celebratory Month didn’t come into being until 1970. It was first proposed by black educators at Kent State University in 1969 and the first celebration of Black History Month took place on campus the next year. Six years later the month was being celebrated in schools across the country. It was then that it was officially recognized by a sitting president when President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” This came during the celebration of the United States bicentennial.

Today Black History Month is bigger and quite possibly more important than ever, though it faces opposition even from those in the black community. There are those who argue that by dedicating a single month to Black history we are allowing for such topics to be removed from the conversation the rest of the year. Others argue that the existence of this month damages the position of Europe and North America in their places of world history. Meanwhile supporters of Black History Month maintain that without the month the voices and history of African Americans would get lost completely.

While there still is, and always will be opposition to the celebration of Black History Month the celebration of it has expanded to other countries as well. Today it is celebrated in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, and Ireland. It is celebrated in February in North America but in Europe they celebrate it in October. Each country naturally focuses on the history of Africans in their country much as we do in the United States.

Do you know of history related to Black History Month that you can share?

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LaToyia, The Motivated Mom


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  1. Every tribe and race in this world has its own cultural history as well as the history of struggles. What does not kill us only makes us stronger.

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