The title of this blog is pretty controversial, right? I may have managed to trigger a few people but before you react, continue reading. If you are still triggered or disagree, share your thoughts, we would love to hear them.
So let’s start with a little background on how I got here.
Our Gulf Coast Mom leadership team was brainstorming content ideas for Black History Month, and the question came up, why is Black History just a month? Why do we even have a separate month for Black History?
We finished our session but the question remained with me.
So I’d like to start from the beginning, where did Black History Month originate?
Historian Carter G. Woodson a founding member of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, founded Negro History Week in February, 1926. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), “Woodson chose February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, Abraham Lincoln and Freddrik Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectively.” There’s much more to this story and I highly suggest checking out the Origins of Black History Month on the ASALH website.
In 1976, thanks to the lobbying of black intellectuals, Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month calling on the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Every President since, has designated February as Black History Month.
Each year, in keeping with tradition, Black History Month has a theme.
The theme for 2021 is “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”
Carter Woodson’s vision was for Black History to become part of American History and not be just a week or even a month. Afterall, Black people are Americans, why do our contributions need to be celebrated by just us and limited to one month of the year? Why are our kids still being taught the same old revisionist history that for the most part excludes the contributions of anyone who is not White and/or male?
I may have hit a hot button, maybe I triggered you again but let’s do a little test…
Name five things you learned about Black History in elementary, middle, or high school.
You may not use a slave or slavery, or Martin Luther King Jr.
Don’t be discouraged if you had a hard time with that, I did also. In fact, in 2015, a study from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Oberg Research found that on average, only 8 or 9% of history class time in US schools is devoted to Black History. But why do we call it “Black History”, why is it that we are a separate subject? Why is any group that has made contributions to this great country we live in, a separate subject, it’s all part of American history, right?
Where am I going with this?
Why am I saying we need to cancel Black History Month? Well, because we are Americans. Our history is one of beauty, it deserves to be celebrated by all. Slavery is part of our history but its not all of our history. We invented and innovated before, during, and after slavery. From infrastructure, science, food, music, art, and more, Black people have had a significant hand in shaping America into what it is today.