The History of Black History Month

Gilbert Smith, Staff Writer

Black History Month has not always been around, in fact, it is a relatively new thing. It all began as recently as 1915, half a century after the abolishment of slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment. In the September of 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and the minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the, “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent,” explains HISTORY. Today, the association is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). HISTORY continues, “the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926”. The group had decided to choose the second week of Feb. to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This event led to the inspiration of schools and communities nationwide to organize celebrations, form history clubs, and host performances and lectures. Since the beginning of this event, the main focus was to encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in educational institutions with a focus on primary education. 

Originally, the overall reception was lukewarm, but Woodson considered it a great success. In the Feb. of 1969, the idea for Black History Month was brought up and promoted by Black students and educators at Kent State University. The next year was the first celebration of Black History Month on campus and local areas. Six years later, in 1975, Black History Month was being celebrated across the country, both in and out of schools, colleges, and community centers. In 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first president to not only recognize, but praise, Black History Month. Since then, every American president has proclaimed Feb. as Black History Month. Other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom dedicate a month to acknowledging and celebrating Black history. 

With each year comes a new theme that is given to Black History Month, this year being “Black Health and Wellness.” This year’s theme is dedicated to examining how the American Healthcare system has over-served and harmed the African American communities. The historical abandonment of the communities within the healthcare system goes back centuries and is still not fixed. Even today, the US chooses to stay behind the forward movement of the rest of the world in providing affordable medical care for its citizens. This puts African Americans and other minorities among the country’s most vulnerable communities, especially if they are poor. 

There are many people who are celebrated in Black History Month. There is Martin Luther King Jr. who is well known for his “I have a dream” speech and is celebrated for his efforts in the fight for equal rights and the end to segregation in all walks of life. There were also many firsts to celebrate with Thurgood Marshall being appointed to the court in 1967, Mae Jemison in space in 1992 and Barack Obama in the 21st century.

Black History Month Events 

There have been events on campus that talk about topics related to it that will have happened by the time this goes up like “Liberty and Justice for All? African-American History and American Democracy” on Feb. 9th in Cebula Hall. There most likely will be more events that will celebrate it on campus.

Sources

https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month

https://nationaltoday.com/black-history-month/

http://www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/black-history-month.htm