Use celebration as starting point to recognize Black Americans
February is Black History Month in the United States. It is a time for celebration of African American individuals and their accomplishments, and at the very core of the holiday, education for everyone. While the history of African Americans and their culture in this country is important every month of the year, we should use the spotlight that Black History Month has to continue to better educate ourselves.
According to W. Marvin Dulaney, Carter G. Woodson was the originator of the holiday, originally creating what was known as Negro History Week in 1926 to help eduacate people about African American history and culture in the US. His goal was to coordinate these teachings and have them taught at public schools across the country. This took place in the second week of February.
Over time the idea was accepted and practiced regularly. What was only a week of teaching shifted into a month long period of teaching and celebration, changing from Negro History Week to Black History month, running throughout all of February. Black History Month became an official celebration in the United States in 1976 by the acknowledgement of President Gerald R. Ford.
The timing of Black History Month originated from the birthdays of both President Abraham Licoln and Fredrick Douglass. Both of their birthdays were the second week of February, resulting in Carter G. Woodson choosing the week for the original Negro History week, before evolving into Black History Month.
With so much attention turned to African American history for the next few weeks, now is the perfect time to utilize that spotlight to learn and fill in the gaps of history that you may not have been taught before.
Many events are not taught in public schools and may be unknown to many, such as the Philidelphia Poice Department detonating a bomb in a city neighborhood killing 11 people and destroying 64 homes, or the assasination of activist Fred Hampton by the FBI.
Now is the time to continue learning and to listen to those around you. There are plenty of books, movies and other media to help highlight new conversations that you may have never had and that is how to keep moving forward. Use this month of celebration and education to do so.