Time Flies – Black History Month

Time flies when you’re having fun!  Or maybe time flies when you have a million things going on – even when you’re 12.  February is half way over and, boy oh boy, has it been busy.  Super Bowl Sunday, Groundhog’s Day (he saw his shadow, by the way), my dad’s birthday, Valentine’s Day – a lot’s been going on!  I’ve been busy at school (science sucks, by the way, but pre-algebra is getting better), dancing four days a week (oh my aching hips and knees), and making healthy recipes from my new “100 Days of Real Food” cookbook (a dancer’s gotta eat healthy).  February is almost over and I haven’t even written a blog post about a very important subject, Black History Month.

Black History Month

According to www.history.com, Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.  The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.  Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.  Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.  That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.  Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week.  By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.  President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month.

Black History Month 2

I am proud to be a black American.  I think that Black History Month is very important.  In school, we do learn about famous African-Americans and events involving blacks in American history like slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, Crispus Attucks, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama.  But, I do think it’s true that we don’t learn enough about the accomplishments of African-Americans.  I know a lot about famous black Americans because of my parents.  My mom studied history in college and she has a ton of books on the shelves about all kinds of topics in history – a lot of political books and black history books.  This isn’t true for most other kids – black or white – at least not the kids I have gone to school with over the years.  I would like for us to get to the point where there is no need for Black History Month.  The contributions of black Americans are just as important as those of white Americans.  No one race of people should be talked about just during a single month of the year.  History is history and we should learn about people of all races throughout the year.    After all, black history is American history.