For many individuals, Black Historical past Month was the one month the place the historical past of Black People was talked about every day at school. We wrote papers on Martin Luther King Jr., heard the story of Rosa Parks, and bought transient overviews of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. And for some odd purpose, we spent greater than sufficient time watching Roots. However the one essential factor we’re not taught? Why Black Historical past Month is in February.
Sadly, America’s white-washed story of Black historical past that we discovered in grade college solely touches the floor of the plight of Black People. For a lot of people, the specifics of how Black Historical past Month got here to be and different prolific figures that performed a component in its improvement aren’t as properly referred to as they need to be. As adults now although, we must always all query the elements of historical past that we had been taught and — extra importantly — query why sure elements of it had been overlooked. And that features discovering the origin of Black Historical past Month and why it is celebrated through the shortest month of the yr.
When was Black Historical past Month created?
Whereas the official title of “Black Historical past Month” wasn’t created till February 1976, the celebration’s roots date again to the early 1900s. The month was created as a furthering of Nationwide Negro Historical past Week — which passed off through the second week of February 1926 and was created by Harvard-trained historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland. After the success of the week-long occasion, communities all through the nation took observe and started placing collectively their very own occasions and celebrations to honor Black tales.
The nationwide celebrations for Black historical past, coupled with the Civil Rights Motion and Black People talking up about receiving equality and freedom, spearheaded the week right into a month-long occasion in 1969 going down on faculty campuses all through the nation. And only a few years later in 1976, President Gerald Ford designated February as Black Historical past Month.
Why is Black Historical past Month in February?
Whereas longstanding rumour has claimed that Black Historical past Month is well known in February as a result of it is the shortest month of the yr, that is truly not true. After the deaths of then-presumed ally and sixteenth President of the US, Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and distinguished activist, writer, and public speaker Frederick Douglass (February 14), Woodson — by way of the then-titled Affiliation for the Examine of Life and Historical past (ASNLH) — celebrated their contributions to civil rights and liberation on their respective birthdays.
As Nationwide Negro Historical past Week landed in February to coincide with the above, President Ford declared the month to simply be an official extension of the extremely celebrated week. And thus, Black Historical past Month was born.
President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass weren’t the one folks meant to be honored throughout Black Historical past month, although. As President Ford expressed to the general public through the time of recognization, Black Historical past Month was created to “seize the chance to honor the too-often uncared for accomplishments of Black People in each space of endeavor all through our historical past.”
How can I study extra about historic Black figures?
Although Black Historical past Month lands within the month of February, that does not imply that it is the solely time you need to rejoice Black figures. Whether or not you are part of the Black group or are an ally to it, honoring the icons which have paved the best way for humanity will be performed everytime you’d like.
Whilst you can completely Google any Black determine’s title that involves thoughts and discover an overflowing quantity of data on them, if you happen to’re searching for a spot to begin that can provide up names of figures you do not fairly know, entities just like the NAACP, ASALH, the Nationwide Archives, the official Black Historical past Month web site, and extra are right here to assist. Likewise, a plethora of Black historical past documentaries and Black historical past films can be found for all ages to assist unfold extra information about Black tradition, historical past, and prolific figures.