Black History Month

Edna Bonsu

Since its inception in 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated every February in the United States. Black History Month is not only a time to honor the black men and women who have made this country what it is today, but it is also a time to reflect on the steps we can take to make this nation a peaceful place for all people. 

In 1915, fifty years after the abolishment of slavery, Harvard alumni Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland–a popular preacher–founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or ASALH). In February of 1926, the organization sponsored a national Negro History Week. The weeklong occasion intentionally coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Inspired by the ASALH, many schools and communities began hosting celebrations, conferences, lectures, and performances in honor of  Negro History Week. This domino effect continued and soon the mayors of major cities began to recognize Negro History Week as well. At the rise of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, select college campuses began recognizing the struggles that come with owning one’s black identity, and Black History Month sprang to life.

It was not until President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976 that it morphed into what we know today. Ford declared that Black History Month was the country’s opportunity “to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. Nearly fifty years later, President Ford’s words still ring true. 

Honoring the achievements of the black community is not something that should be assigned solely to February. Shining the light on black revolutionaries who are often shut in the dark is something we can all actively partake in. Utilizing the lessons of history will only equip us with the courage needed to shape a better environment than the one we were introduced to. Black lives are valuable not only in February, but they are worthy every hour of every day.



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