Do you know when Black History Month began?
We must begin a little over a hundred years ago in the early 20th Century to answer this question.
Carter G. Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He wanted to provide the nation with a history of black people that was not focused on slavery alone. His intention was to provide black scholars with a broader study of their African American History.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week. It would be celebrated during the week of Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays in February. He designated a theme each year to help focus the attention of the public on current issues. The theme for 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity
The weeklong celebration continued through the years until February 1976, when a month was observed. It was President Gerald Ford who said, “In the Bicentennial year of our Independence, we can review with admiration the impressive contributions of Black Americans to our national life.”
In 1986, Martine Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was declared a national holiday, and the U.S. Congress, in a joint resolution of the House and Senate, officially designated the month of February as “National Black History Month.” President Regan signed the Presidential Proclamation #5443 noting that “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”
It may seem that these white presidents were the hero’s who enlightened the world to the troubles of black Americans, however this is not so. They were people who had privilege to make something happen. They played a part in a much larger movement.
So, what does all this mean today?
In the words of Yevette Clarke, who was elected to Congress in 2007, “We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness. I encourage all Americans to take time during this month, and throughout the year, to reflect upon the many contributions African Americans have made to the building of our nation.
There have been many organizations devoted to bringing knowledge to the American people of what Black Americans have done to make America better. In my opinion, Black Lives Matter is a current movement to help people understand, how can all lives matter, when Black Americans, and all other minorities are still being treated unfairly to this day? Even though the 14th amendment of 1868 makes everyone born in the United States a citizen, who is entitled to equal protection by every state, we continue to see an unequal amount of violence, lower wages, lack of medical access, and unfair practices in most black communities.
I am not black, but I have many family members who are. In honor of this year’s theme, I am working to understand their struggles and learn what I can do to help make my family and community a better place.
So, I ask, please take a few minutes this month to become familiar with the real-life struggles of our fellow citizens in today’s world, and maybe you too will want to help to make Black History month into a year long event in 2022.
Your ever humble host,
Sandra Geffre, Owner of Culture of Fabric
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