Black History Month-History on the History:
Updated: Apr 3
Are We Just Relegated to the Month of February?
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me." —Muhammad Ali
The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week." It is believed that this week was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglas on February 20, both of which dates black communities celebrated since the late 19th century. The origin of the week was created in recognition of the importance of the contributions made by Blacks in America and to make those lessons available in the public schools. Although the Department of Educations of 3 states, Delaware, North Carolina, and West Virginia cooperated with a roll out of the first Negro History Week, the rest of the nation was indifferent to its purpose and intent.
Black History Month also called African American History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first recorded celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State, one year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970. Kent State was recognized as an institution of student revolt for racial inequity and injustice amidst racial tensions during the period 1966-1970. For example, on May 4, 1970, twenty-eight National Guard soldiers fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. This was known as the Kent State Massacre which begs the question of what was the message to the students fighting against racial injustice and the atrocities of the world both domestically and internationally.
Black History Month is not only an annual observance where it has received official recognition from governments in the United States, but countries like Canada, and more recently Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom observe the period as well. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, while in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom it is observed in October.
In 1976, Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month during the celebration of the Bicentennial. He encouraged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” While black history was shared across educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, the expression of our history seems to have fallen short in content and in depth across America because Black History IS American History.
Fast forward to 2021,
At The Prosperity Foundation, Black History is not relegated to one month. In no way could we ever recognize the many contributions, known and unknown-which we are still uncovering made by our ancestors and present-day pioneers. We celebrate Black history and find it befitting to celebrate it every day, so we look to the end of February as an acknowledgement of the beginning of celebration and not accepting the shortest month of the year to recognize our many contributions. Rather we encourage all Americans to ‘level up’ in their education, understanding and acknowledgment of Black History.
Are we just relegated to the month of February? The Prosperity Foundation’s response-a resounding NO! We ask that you join The Prosperity Foundation by sharing more of our history by contributing your stories of black history, black philanthropy, black businesses and what is happening in the black community. You can send your stories to www.tpfct.org. You may be featured!!