February 1st marked the beginning of Black History Month. Every year Americans set aside a few weeks in honor of focusing their historical hindsight on the contributions that people of African descent have made to our country. While not everyone celebrates Black History, there are numerous reasons why Get The Clicks wanted to take the time to share why this period is important to us.
First, let’s recount how Black History Month came to fruition. Black History Month is also referred to as African-American History Month; this celebration originally started as Negro History Week in 1926. This event took place in the second week of February since it coincided with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Negro History Week was created by a Harvard-trained historian named, Carter G. Woodson.
In 1976, the bicentennial of the United States, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week into a full month. He said America needed to “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Black History Month has continuously been the spotlight of criticism from both black people and other races. Some people say it’s unfair to devote an entire month to a specific race of people. Other people resist the fact that we should celebrate black history throughout the whole year. People who hold this opinion believe setting aside only one month, gives people license to neglect this past for the other 11 months.
Nonetheless, in the midst of all the controversy about this historical period, Black History Month is not about what was done for African Americans, but rather what they were able to endure, overcome, and what they have been able to achieve. Celebrating Black History Month shouldn’t be a time when people speak up about their opinions regarding whether or not they deserve the honor of remembrance. This month is time to recognize that African Americans were able to overcome obstacles, stand up for their rights, and with the exception of some, use nonviolent methods to make a change for this world.
Far too often, the most negative aspects of African American culture and communities get featured. As a society, we continually hear about poverty rates, incarceration rates, and high school dropout rates. We are consistently flooded with images of unruly athletes and raunchy TV stars as paradigms of what success for black people looks like.
Black History Month provides an opportunity for people to focus on the different aspects of the narratives of African Americans. We have the chance to celebrate Madam C.J. Walker, as the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. In addition, we can enjoy the beautiful poetry of Phyllis Wheatly, the first African American poet, and woman to publish a book. Also, let’s not forget about the soulful jazz and somber blues music that was composed of the likes of Miles Davis and Robert Johnson. Black History Month allows us to celebrate the significant African American accomplishments.
It can be painful to see people not appreciate Black History Month because African American history (just like Hispanic, Asian, European, and Native history) belongs to everyone. Whether you’re back or white, man or woman, young or old. The impact that African Americans made, left a positive mark on this country and is part of a collective consciousness. Thinking about the history of Black History Month draws all of us as people into a grand and diverse story that should never be forgotten and celebrated until the end of time.