Mia Stevens, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” -Stated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
Dr. Woodson is known as the founder of Black History Month and encouraged the declaration of this month through his thoughts and beliefs. Black History Month is the honoring of the triumphs and struggles that African Americans faced throughout US History and is celebrated annually through the month of February.
Origins of Black History Month
Dr. Carter G. Woodson is the founder of Black History Month and continuously pushed to popularize this tradition throughout the country. In 1926 Dr. Carter Woodson proposed and launched the start of recognizing “Negro History Week” within February. He made advances in the advocacy for studying Black history by influencing schools to participate in a special program which encouraged the study of Black history. Initially February was chosen for the week-long celebration to honor the two abolitionists, Frederick Douglas and President Abraham Lincoln.
After about 40 years, in the late 1960s, supporting Black history finally got the recognition and value it deserved. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement and growing awareness of Black pride, especially from Dr. Woodson, Negro History Week evolved to Black History Month on numerous college campuses. Then in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially declared Black History Month as a recognized holiday. President Ford stated to the public in a speech to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Why and how is Black History Month celebrated?
Black History Month is celebrated to honor the black community through their history of oppression but to also spotlight their accomplishments. Not only does it give recognition to Black achievement, but it also provides a fresh reminder to evaluate where systematic racism stemmed from and where it persists. It helps to give visibility to the individuals and organizations that have created change.
In the United States, Black History Month is celebrated through a range of activities, events and specifically recognized in academic institutes throughout the month. Many schools across the country prioritize educating their students about Black history and culture throughout February. Activities such as reading about African American experience and culture, or watching documentaries that highlight significant events or influential figures are integrated in history lessons. Alternative things people do outside of schools could be supporting Black-owned businesses, donating to charities that support anti-racism and equality, or just simply watching movies that showcase black culture or overcoming oppression are other ways to celebrate this holiday.
Black History Month in 2022
Every year there is a new theme that marks the celebration. Different themes target subcategories of Black history and help to closely focus on the multiple aspects of different past accomplishments for the Black community. In the previous years the themes consisted of Civil Rights in America (2014), African Americans in times of war (2018), African Americans and the Vote (2020), etc. This year’s theme in 2022 was Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the success and legacy of Black scholars and healthcare professionals in Western medicine. In order to obtain good health and wellness Black people have built on self-determination, social support initiatives in order to exceptionally build hospitals, medical and nursing schools and community clinics. This year it was important to highlight these accomplishments and to recognize their hard work in the medical field despite possible oppression.
Overall the Black community has gone through disadvantages and successes showcasing how Black history in the United States has been through rough patches and highs. Celebrating their perseverance by continuing to fight should be remembered every day.