Black History Month

Zhen Tu, Features Writer

February is known as Black History Month, or National African American History Month, in the United States. However, several other countries celebrate Black History Month as well, including Canada and the United Kingdom. It was developed to celebrate the achievements of African Americans throughout U.S. history and to acknowledge the crucial role they played in shaping our country.

The origins for Black History Month date back to 1915, when the highly regarded historian Carter G. Woodson and the distinguished minister Jesse E. Moorland established the the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). When the organization financed a national Negro History Week in 1926, the occasion led rapidly to nationwide community celebrations, the creation of many history clubs, and the insurgence of performances and lectures. As the years went on, cities across the United States began incorporating Negro History Week into their yearly celebrations. By the 1960s, Negro History week had metamorphosed into Black History Month on several college campuses. Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, persuading Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

In many schools around the country, teachers use the month of February to tell stories and inform their students about the history of African Americans. Older students may read books by Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, or Octavia Butler to celebrate Black History Month.

Despite the immense support for the celebration of Black History Month, there are objections to it, even from the African American community. Some people say that celebrating African American history for only one month a year “gives people license to neglect this past for the other 11 months.” However, as the journalist and writer Bené Viera states, “Once February is over, I hope we hold on to how powerful Black History Month is and carry that joy, that knowledge, that spirit, for the rest of the year.”