In Celebration of Black History Month
Black History Month means celebrating and articulating a sense of pride in what it means to be a Black individual. It is a time of reflection and appreciation, for all that black Americans have achieved, the barriers broken, and all that black people still have to accomplish.
Black History Month was crafted to compel recognition by a stubborn nation of the unique and invaluable role black people have played in the creation and sustainment of the United States. We “officially” have to educate ourselves and acknowledge those before us who has made the most beautiful contributions to this country; understand and never forget what happened in the past so we can do better in the future; and, use our history to inspire and motivate each new generation, and in so doing, truly honor those who made it possible for us to be where we are at this moment in time.
Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969 and was first celebrated also at Kent State University in 1970.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month. Since then, it has been celebrated all across the country. He urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history".
Since its inception, Black History Month has never been just a celebration of black America’s achievements and stories; it’s part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens. This was the aim of Carter G. Woodson, a black historian and originator of Negro History Week in 1926, who believed that appreciating a people’s history was a prerequisite to equality. He wrote of the 1926 commemoration that “…no amount of legislation can grant you equality if a nation doesn’t value you.”
Woodson believed that celebrating black history was a political act to “destroy the dividing prejudices and teach universal love without distinction of race, merit or rank.” because failure to accept black people as fellow architects of the United States is an existential threat to the nation we call home.
Only recognizing and respecting the dignity and equality of black Americans can the nation deliver what we all want, and Black History Month is a means to this end.
Submitted by: Roland Winburn, Trustee Harrison Township