Since 1976 Black History Month has been a remembrance of the events in the history of the African American movement. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in the month of February, and the United Kingdom in the month of October. In the U.S., Black History Month is also referred to as African-American History Month. Black History Month actually started as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. The goal of Black History Week was to educate the American people about African-Americans’ cultural backgrounds and reputable achievements. Mr. Woodson believed that black history was a missing segment in the minds of most American Historians of his day. Black History Month has certainly played a key role in establishing African American history as a historically significant part of American History. You may be thinking to yourself, it is no longer a missing segment in the minds of most Americans, so therefore it is not relevant by today’s standards.
Nothing could be further from the truth, than that uneducated line of thinking. African American history IS American History!! I cannot argue that over a number of years it has become a more commercialized month, giving the opportunity to advertise and sell, more companies have used it for monetary gain. However, so has Christmas and Thanksgiving and don’t get me started about Valentine’s Day……..but there is still a reason we continue to celebrate these Holidays….I believe it is because at they’re core they are still a part of American history and tradition. Now they may have started elsewhere, but we have made them a part of our culture, our American culture.
Even with the creation of black Friday and the 24 hours a day 7 days a week for 30 straight days of Christmas music on a popular radio station….we still know it is important to gather with family, tell our sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Christmases past, teach them about important people in our family history both living and deceased. It is important to educate our youth and give proper respect to the people (family members) that had they not done what they did, some of our families may not be here today. They sacrificed and paved the way for everyone to be together on these holidays. That sense of family, tradition and pride in being an American is what Black History month is all about. Americans whom just so happen to be of African descent.
Americans who gave up many if not all of their holidays so that they’re children and grandchildren would not have to. Black History Month tells the continuing story of American history from the African American perspective. I’ll give you a couple of reasons why it is so relevant for today’s generation and future generations…. We all know the stories of many great African American contributors… Fredrick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr. George Washington Carver etc… but, what about all of the non-African Americans who directly contributed to the abolishment of slavery, the education of an entire generation of displaced people. Those that gave their lives in the name of humanity. Who will speak for those American heroes?Why are they not mentioned in the same breath as Araminta Ross better known as Harriett Tubman? You ask why is Black Histoy Month relevant.
It is relevant because we have barely scratched the surface towards recognizing, learning, teaching and understanding the true meaning of this American tradition. I thought about naming some of the non-African American contributors for those gathered here today, but then it occurred to me (I don’t need to) part of my purpose was to plant a seed, contribute to intelligent dialogue. I stated I would give you a couple of reasons..
The second one is this…..In our classrooms we still teach Greek mythology, we teach about the Great Roman empires, We teach American Indian history, we teach about Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, Thomas Edison’s light bulb … and many many more historically important people and inventions. Yet these groups of people and inventions are no longer with us in the same capacity as they once were. And some of their ideas and inventions seem like they could have been created by a child… by today’s standards. We teach about them because they are all……in one way or another connected to the development of the same race…The HUMAN Race!!! When you fill out an application for employment, school or the census, you’re asked to check a box White, African American, Hispanic American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander (maybe a few others) and then there is a box marked OTHER…..
Even with the diversity America has, who checks that box? Anyone mixed with two or more races? Anyone whose family history starts at Ellis Island? What if I told you OTHER is the fastest growing population in the world? What if in 25 years OTHER is the dominating population? I tell you this because I want you to think 50, 100, or 500 years from now when the OTHERS are the dominant race, how will they know of the contributions of African Americans? How will they know of the contributions of Irish Americans? Polish Americans? Jewish Americans? Filipino Americans? Asian Americans? American Indians? They will know because hopefully they will still be celebrating Irish American month in March, Filipino American Month in October, Hispanic Heritage month from Sep 15 to Oct 15, Jewish American Month in May and African American Month in February…That is how they will know… Because no matter what box you check… no matter what race creed or color you descend from, the key descriptor is that of being an American.