Black History Month

By: Chris Cummins
Staff Writer

While to most people February may be known as the month of love, it shares this title with something that’s just as important. February is Black History Month, and it offers some people who may not know about the vast contributions to American culture African-Americans have made a chance to remedy that. Founded in 1926 by Carter G Woodson, a black historian who was the second black man to earn a doctorate at Harvard, Woodson aimed to create an event that would help educate black people about their history and contributions to American history, while inspiring pride in their cultural contributions as well.

While picking February to become Black History Month may seem a bit arbitrary, in reality it was quite planned. Dr.Woodson picked the second month of the year because two of the most influential leaders of Black Americans ever, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, were born in February. Frederick Douglass was a famous writer and abolitionist who became leader of the abolitionist movement, and served as a counter example to claims that slaves could not function on their own in American society. Abraham Lincoln, as most people know, freed the slaves, and holds a place in African American history rarely equaled or even bettered, with the exception of Martin Luther King, Jr.
While Black History Month started out as a week, in 1976 the federal government and the nation, in recognition of the important place African-Americans have played in the history of the United States, extended it to an entire month. This recognition came about due to the nation’s bicentennial, and the fact that African-Americans were pushing ever harder for recognition and respect, even after slavery had been abolished over 100 years, athend especially as non-violent civil rights movement had been devastated by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. There was still a long way to go, it seemed.

Now, we have an African-American president. Over thirteen Oscar awards have been awarded to African-Americans, our Attorney General is an African-American, and we live in an America defined by its (mostly) friendly diversity. With this diversity present, and what some are calling a “post-racial America” coming into being after the Obama presidency, some have questioned the need for celebrating a single race or ethnic group, when there are dozens, even hundreds of ethnic and racial groups living in America. Some have even gone so far as to claim that the need for Black History Month is no longer present, with the unprecedented amount of integration present in American society today. What, critics claim, is the point of Black History Month when there are so many other minorities living in America today? Why shouldn’t they receive a month as well? Isn’t the existence of a month celebrating a single ethnic group divisive, rather than inclusive? These are all somewhat valid claims, but they miss the larger point. Black History Month is about instilling pride in a journey dominated by hardship and injustice, and it’s whole existence is to remind all of America, not just African-Americans, of the need for tolerance and friendship with your fellow man, no matter what color he may be.