Every February, we as a nation celebrate Black History Month. Like clockwork every year, the month is dedicated to the celebrating the accomplishments of African Americans and those of African descent. For many of us, the month comes and goes so quickly each year that much of our time isn’t spent celebrating or learning more about the contributions of so many.
As another Black History month comes to a close, I have to ask the question: do you know know why Black History is celebrated? Do you know the origin? I, for one, did not.
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Black History Month started as a national Negro History week in 1926, established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Over the years and decades that followed, Negro History Week gained momentum, and was celebrated by mayors of cities across the country. Not until the Civil Rights movement and the attention it garnered, did Black History Month gain traction, being celebrated on college campuses. It wasn’t until 1976, that Black History Month was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford and celebrated every year since.
Each year, ASALH.org, publishes a theme to celebrate Black History Month. This year’s theme, Black Health and Wellness, acknowledges the accomplishments and legacy of Black scholars and medical professionals and other ways of knowing throughout the African diaspora. And while this theme provides a focus and scope, it should not be the only knowledge you seek when celebrating the accomplishments of those from African and African American heritage.
But more importantly, we should also be celebrating the accomplishments of the BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) community. Their accomplishments should be celebrated and recognized beyond the month of February. Black History Month, should be used as the spark we all need to seek social justice and change in the lives of the marginalized, oppressed and under-served. As a nation, there is no time better than the present, to come together as a united front, demanding real change in our communities.
I’m prepared to keep celebrating, are you?