The Significance of Black History Month
This Month is Black History Month, which is officially recognized by the United States, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and the Netherlands. Black History Month originated in the U.S., where it is also known as African-American History Month.
The precursor to Black History Month was Black History Week which was first celebrated 1926, as an educational endeavor of American Scholar Dr. Carter Woodson (1875-1950). The specific calendar week was chosen because it coincided with the birthdates of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and Frederick Douglass (February 14th)– these gentlemen’s birth dates have been celebrated together by American black communities since the late 19th century– in recognition of the significant impact these two individuals had on Black American life.
Dr. Woodson pushed to bring black history into public consciousness, noticing that the role of African Americans in American History was either misrepresented or missing altogether from the history books of his time. Black history was largely ignored by historians and the general public until the 20th century; Dr. Woodson is attributed as a significant force in changing all that, through the coordination of teaching the history of black Americans in the nation’s public schools.
Much of the history of black people wasn’t known by blacks or whites until black history was taught in school. The research and dissemination of black history has countered myths that slaves were well-treated under slavery or that blacks had been better off under slavery. It also, by lifting examples of extraordinary individuals, provided examples of Americans for children to look-up to, emulate, and have pride in.
Black History week grew in popularity over the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday. Black History Month was first proposed by black history educators at our very own Kent State University (here in Ohio), and officially became recognized by President Ford during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial, in 1976.
While Black History month has helped the growing cultural identity among the black community, it’s significance to all Americans can not be overstated. We can not make America Great while blind to one another or to our history, and without examples of greatness from the full spectrum of our citizenry. All these things are part of the shared history of the United States.
We’ve identified several resource links for anyone wishing to learn more about Black History in the United States. There is a great deal more each of us can personally learn about the history of Black Americans. If you know of other resources, comment in our discussion forums, and we’ll see about adding them to our list.
This is What We’ve Identified So Far:
Resources from the Center For Racial Justice In Education
Resources from U.S. Library of Congress
Resources from the African American History Month Government website, and
Resources from the National Education Association