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The True History of Black History Month

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

Unveiling the history of the Afro-Centric month for the celebration of Black achievement.

Black History Month or African-American History Month is an annual observance that is observed and celebrated each year to honor the works of the Black population globally, especially in North America. This month is extremely important for the Black population because of the achievements of people of African descent being diminished or whitewashed because of Europeanism, Imperialism, and the Atlantic slave trade. Without its conception, many parts of “true history” would still permeate the zeitgeist of our country with falsehoods with people who have contributed to the advancement of human history ultimately being forgotten.



Origins:

Black History Month’s predecessor was a week called “Negro History Week” which was founded by Carter G. Woodson and his organization the “Association for the Study of African American Life and History” in 1926 with the thought of a specific time to “honor” the global African descended community. Carter also believed that publishing scientific history based on race would dispel falsehood about the achievements of Africans and people of African descent and transform and improve race relations across the board. The week that the observance was held in February was the week that comprised both the 12th and the 14th to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass respectively, which were days the Black community at the time celebrated since the 19th century. Though the reasoning behind their conception of the week by Woodson was never recorded, many scholars believed his reasoning for the creation of the week was because of “recognition and importance” since the collective African Diaspora was unrecognized and underrepresented. It wasn't till 1970 when Negro History Week officially evolved into "Black History Month" after educators and the Black United Students from "Kent State University" in February 1969 became proponents for the evolution of the observance. The official observance became a thing when it was celebrated for the first time at the same institution a year later, from January 2 to February 28 in 1970.



Throughout History:

Throughout the decades, the month was adopted by many states with states wanting to adopt the day because of its growing popularity. Black History Month then expanded globally with places like the "United Kingdom" adopting it in 1987, "Canada" in 1995, and was recently in the Republic of Ireland in 2010. Criticism has risen over the years since its conception regarding the observance within the educational system. Many proponents believe that Black History Month shouldn't be seen as an observance at all and should be part of the mainstream educational system of history since "Black History is American History" and that the mainstream educational system is still seen today as a tool for "White Supremacy" which is still an issue in public schooling.



In The Contemporary Setting:

In the contemporary setting, Black History Month is a month where the larger societies in the western world take the time to understand the contributing nature and potential that the Black population wasn't allotted and now get to acknowledge the number of achievements garnered by the population. Black History Month is an important month to a community of people and others who would argue that it needs to be longer to highlight and celebrate the achievements of unique, talented, and creative individuals who contributed to the greater whole of history that has been forgotten or whitewashed all together.


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