Black History Month
By: Lynn Reynolds
Image from: Biography.com
Celebrated in the months of February and October, Black History Month is all about acknowledging and honoring the achievements of Americans who have an African ancestry. This celebration was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and the ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History), and it became recognized as a month long celebration in 1976. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincolns’ on the 12th and Frederick Douglass’ on the 14th.
At the time, when Black History Month began, African-Americans were largely left out of history. Schools did not incorporate any colored individuals when educating on important events or discoveries in American History. The purpose of Black History Month is to bring attention to influential African-American figures that have slipped through the cracks of history. It was dedicated to teaching future generations that Caucasian people weren’t the only ones to make a difference. This annual celebration was intended to bring these influential Americans back into the light and honor their achievements, sacrifices, and wisdom. Woodson wanted to show Americans of all races that there are other important figures in history that were not just white. This promoted racial representation and highlighted the many achievements of people of color.
Nowadays, Black History Month serves to remind us of our ancestors and current African-American leaders. Our school textbooks now include a more racially diverse list of influential figures. Barack Obama, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Wilma Rudolph, Rosa Parks, and more; these are the names that should be most familiar to you from history class. Furthermore, You now hear about slavery, the American Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and other major events in a new light. However, there are some important historical figures that are still missing from our history classes. Where are the engineers like Walt Braithwaite, Robert R. Taylor, and Mary Jackson? What about military leaders like Maj. Martin Robison Delany, Harriet M. Waddy, and Col. Adele E. Hodges?
There is more to Black History than the events we tend to hear the most about in class. It’s more than the stories of just a few select people. Black History Month is not just about honoring historical figures; it also honors our family members as well. Listen to their stories because the most important people in your history are right there. Ignore them and their achievements will slip through the cracks to be forgotten. Celebrate your history, learn from it, and be proud.
This year’s theme: African Americans in Times of War marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI and honors the roles of African-Americans in warfare. Try asking around or researching your ancestors this month for any war heroes in your line; it might just surprise you.