Black History Month is a time when those of the African diaspora can take the time out to explore and understand what their ancestors before them fought for.
Black History Month is a time of rejoicing, celebrating and thanking those Africans who sacrificed themselves for the sake of those who were to follow.
Black History Months is a time for educating all about, both the magnificent contributions of the African diaspora to the world that we live in , as well as the horrific treatment that they have endured, and continue to endure.
Too often, only the most negative aspects of African/Caribbean culture and communities get highlighted. We hear about the poverty rates, imprisonment rates, and school drop out rates. We are bombarded with images of unruly artists and athletes as somehow representing success for Black people. We are also subjected to unfair stereotypes and assumptions.
Black History Month provides the chance to focus on different aspects of the story of African/Caribbean people. We can applaud Madam C.J. Walker (the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S). We can read verses of poetry Phyllis Wheatley, (the first African American poet and woman to publish a book).. Black History Month spurs us to seek out and lift up the best in African Caribbean accomplishments.
Unfortunately, it seems that apart from an intentional effort otherwise, Black history is often lost in the mists of time. When we observe Black History Month, we give citizens of all races the opportunity to learn about a past and a people of which they may have little awareness.
First, let’s briefly recount the advent of Black History Month. The original event took place in the USA under the name Negro History Week in 1926, which took place during the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdates of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian is credited with the creation of Negro History Week. In 1976, the bicentennial of the United States, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week into a full month. He said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”