Another Black History Month is upon us, and most years it seems like the same people and events in history are constantly referred to. You know the people and events I’m talking about; Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, etc. Though these people are a big part of Black History, there is so much more than the few people and events we were taught about in schools, or shown in mainstream media.
I definitely see no problem in recounting the efforts of some of the more well known people and events in history, but I thought this year I could offer something a bit different. I was thinking, instead of showcasing the people and events that are widely talked about, I could showcase some of the lesser known people in history, along with some current influential people who are creating history, and those striving to make history. In addition, I will showcase a few of the Black inventions that are relevant in our lives today.
When did Black History Month begin?
Black History Month evolved from Negro History Week which began in 1926. Negro History week was celebrated the second week of February because it included the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The first Black History month celebration took place at Kent State in 1970; however, it was not recognized by the US government until 1976.
“The purpose of Negro History Week was clear – to give us an intellectual and emotional anchor in the midst of overt racism, legal segregation, and the attendant myths of white superiority.” – Allen B. Ballard
What is the purpose of Black History Month?
Some people still believe that Black History Month (BHM) is ONLY for Black people, or a month for us to celebrate our blackness – it is neither of things. BHM is for everyone, because Black history is American history; it is world history. This holiday should be viewed as a month to not only recount historical events or revisit painful times in history to see how far we’ve come (even if it seems as if sometimes we are going backward), but a time to honor these game changers (e.g. MLK), to honor the contributions that Black people have made to the world (not only America), honor the people who are currently breaking barriers to make history, and honor those who are aspiring to make history.
So with that said, I invite you to journey with me through 28 days of Blackness to celebrate Black History as we travel through the Past, Present and look into the Future.