What is Black History Month? Is it a time to flaunt fancy quotes from Black celebrities? Is it a time for businesses to appeal to the Black community? Or is it just an excuse for Black supremacy? If you answered yes to any of those, you’re wrong. Especially the last one.
In September of 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History with the intent of promoting the achievements of Black Americans and people of African descent. Woodson decided to use the ASNLH to reach a wider audience, creating the first Negro History Week starting Feb. 7, 1926.
Containing the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, Woodson settled on February to honor the two men whose efforts propelled the Black community tremendously. With support from Black communities all across America, in 1976 (the 50th anniversary of the ASNLH), the association officially changed to the month-long format we know, and should love, today.
So, what is Black History Month? Black History Month is a time to reflect on American history, educate people on the achievements of the Black community and celebrate the steps we’ve taken to get here.
Personally, I view Black History Month as a replanting of my tree of Black knowledge. The tree grows year-round, of course, but new soil promotes more growth for the trip around the sun. That’s my goal every year, to become more well-versed in Black American history and to use it to teach those who were thrown on the same white-washed history boat as me.
Black History Month is also a time where I feel the most powerful in my Blackness. Being around white influences really opens your eyes to how Black you are, but seeing Black people in places you won’t usually outside of February is inspiring. I’m talking about commercials, movies, TV shows, Snapchat filters, Google banners and even billboards. The advertisement business seems to love Black people during the second month of the year.
It’s also really nice to have Black History Month events on campus. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has already done an amazing job with the hosting of “Soul Food” and Black Jeopardy night. Seeing these events and having people positively embrace Black culture just makes me feel so much more welcomed.
Additionally, accounts across the realm of social media will post Black History Month facts that I didn’t even know existed. My feeds are usually track related, so to see records from the age of black-and-white photography feature people with skin color like mine, it makes me smile a little wider than usual.
Black history reminds me that Black people were more than just slaves in America. They were inventors, athletes, scholars, politicians, parents and so much more. A lot of the time, Black history gets swept right under the rug our feet weigh down. Being Black is more than the nitty-gritty pain and sorrow my people have endured. It’s the greatness we’ve created to counter the strife we’ve faced.
I believe Black History Month should be more than just a month, but it means a lot to me to even have one. February is a reminder of my excellence. Black History Month is a reminder of Black excellence.