As part of our Black History Month article series, we’re kickstarting our celebration with a brief history of how Black History Month began
Black History Month celebrates the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. It is a time to remember the struggles and triumphs of a people who have overcome adversity and discrimination to play a significant role in shaping the course of America.
The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson created ‘Negro History Week.’
Woodson was a history buff who wanted to give some love to the often-neglected stories of Black folk. He felt the tales of African Americans’ trials, triumphs, and contributions were being swept under the rug and forgotten. Woodson was the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University,
He chose the week of February 12th to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two figures who played a significant role in African American history.
Woodson, along with minister Jesse E. Moorland, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), which is today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
Over the years, “Negro History Week” became increasingly popular, and in 1976, it was expanded to a month-long observance and renamed Black History Month.
The month of February was chosen because of its historical significance as the birthplace of many African American leaders, including Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Black History Month has faced challenges and criticism despite its recognition and popularity. Some argue that it is not enough to set aside one month of the year to celebrate African Americans’ contributions and that African Americans’ achievements should be celebrated and recognized all year round.
From here onwards, Black History Month spread to other countries on the following dates:
United Kingdom – 1987
Germany – 1990
Canada – 1995
Republic of Ireland – 2010
France – 2018
Africa – 2020
Others argue that Black History Month reinforces the notion of segregation and perpetuates the idea of ‘otherness.’
Despite these criticisms, Black History Month remains an important observance. It provides an opportunity for people to learn about African Americans’ history and achievements and reflect on the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.
It’s a time to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to society and recognize their important role in shaping America.