Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month?
Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa to African Americans living in the United States today. It started in 1915, when Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in response to a lack of information on Black people’s achievements available to the general public (Universal History Archive, 2022). The organization designated the second week of February as “Negro History Week” in 1926 to honor African Americans’ contributions to American history.
Have you ever wondered why Black History Month is in February? Well, this month was chosen because it aligns with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, and former US president Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln led the United States, which mostly fought for the enslavement of African-Americans in the country (Universal History Archive, 2022). The week after it was established, several schools and leaders began to recognize it. This week-long event officially became Black History Month in 1976.
Now…how much do you know about Black History? We know how powerful of an activist Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were but do you know about Ruby Bridges or Claudette Colvin? These are individuals who you should know about and who have played an important part in Black History. Although Rosa Parks is known for refusing to give up her seat, it was Claudette Colvin, who, just at 15 years old, refused to give up her seat to a white person–nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing (NPR, 2009). Colvin was the first to really challenge the law. Ruby Bridges became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. Everyday four federal marshals escorted Ruby and her mother to school. She walked past crowds yelling vile racist slurs at her. And if you think this was long ago, no. Ruby Bridges is still alive today and works as an American civil rights activist. This was only sixty-two years ago. Sometimes when we think of the word history we think back to hundreds of hundreds of years ago when in fact the oppression of black people is still happening today.
So, I ask you. Are you an ally?
NPR. (2009, March 15). Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin
Universal History Archive. (2010, January 14). Black History Month. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month#:~:text=14%20Images-,Origins%20of%20Black%20History%20Month,the%20prominent%20minister%20Jesse%20E.