In case you didn’t know, you are welcome. February is Black History Month, formally Negro history week before it was converted to Black History Month as the word Negro sounded offensive and more slave-like.
Black History Month was a celebration for the very many contributions by blacks in the building of the American society to what it is today. As an annual holiday in the United States and Canada, Black History Month is also celebrated in other countries in the world such as the UK, and the Netherlands.
So how did it all start?
In the early 1920s, Carter G Woodson a Harvard trained historian felt the need to recognize and celebrate the contribution and persons of African Americans who have in one way or another influences the immediate environment; started in February 1926, it marked the presence of some noticeable American and African Americans that brought significant changes politically, economically and otherwise to the black people of American. Some faces celebrated in the early years are Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, a president and an abortionist who fought mightily to proclaim an institution to stop the enslavement of blacks; together with the idea and courage, these men gradually stopped slave trade and mistreatment of African Americans through the US anti-slavery movement.
The Black History Month also kicked off in the UK in 1987 after riots got out of control due to racial tension and discrimination of the 1980s.
Although the celebration is met with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm at the beginning as the excitement grew over the years, but it was frown upon as not fair when the 38th president of the US endorsed it a holiday when no other race in the United States has a special day dedicated to them. However, not to be argumentative and with all due respect for other races, the blacks that live in the US and elsewhere have passed through a lot including the slave trade and their fight to find their footing in a foreign land. This month celebrates their trial, suffering, and fights to be noticed, stay noticed and proves themselves worthy of the positions they now occupy in the country they call home.
The Black History Month in the US and elsewhere in the world all serve the same purpose – to instill in the black kid a sense of pride and belonging in the society. It is also to help them face and handle the challenges that tend to break us down such as racism. The whole aim is to make our black history accessible to them through different media to create room for a better understanding of being a better black person.
However, to the broader communities that aren’t black or African American, black history has become a mandate to help them understand black people and their heritage aside what we are known for today. The crime, music, our sense of style and attitude and to most of all answers the questions that bother some people regarding black people in general.
Furthermore, both blacks and whites are oblivious of the impact that blacks have made in our society is today, our children are lost because they know less every day about their past, and even worse is that schools not want to acknowledge the black past probably because they know too few about it.
What is there is know about Black History Month?
When Carter G. Woodson started this in 1926, it wasn’t to spite or anger anyone, it wasn’t to say here we are; we are better for it but to show the society that the color of our skin doesn’t make us any different from the next person out there. These are what we want the world to know about us, they should be focusing on the contributions and sacrifices made by black people in the nation building and development. It is also to challenge the notions and ideas that blacks are inferior beings in the minds of the average white individual.
Some argue that this is another way of favoring the minority is a predominately white community but contrary to this, the black history is a month of acknowledgment that there are black people out there that fight the fight you fight to ensure the society is safe and it members are cared for. Black History Month is not about Mandela and apartheid, the struggles of Martin Luther King but it is a tool that can be used to empower both blacks and white to combat big challenges like racism especially to African Americans. It is about every black person regardless of where they leave and what they do. With all the good achievements that blacks have done like fighting in the army during the Second World War, inventors, creators, writers, poets, heroes, heroines and achievers; we should try to stop sweet talking on the good parts alone, but also explore the negatives; our failed struggles, the disappointments and using this history as a reference point to teach our younger generation how we can be different, make it different and reminding them through only struggle and sacrifice can success and fame come. Even more, we should also teach them that a tree cannot make a forest, but togetherness will influence the change we want to see.
Furthermore, in celebrating the Black History Month, we should also try to embrace the American-ness in our black past and how the past is making the present coherent. For teachers and educators, learning about black history is a profound way not only to build a total African child in a white community but to experience our past in the our light and from our perspective.
Finally, the activities for Black History Month should be about African Americans that helped shape our identities and a journey to where it all started. It should be a reminder of our founding fathers and mothers, a piece of history we should wear proudly and boldly, it should be a continuation of the dreams yet unfulfilled of those that have gone before us, it should be the voices of the voiceless and strength to the weak, it should be about you, me and building a better relationship with our neighbor, it should be holding steady fast what truth, justice, and honor truly means, it is remaining together to face the challenges and not looking at the size of the problem, it is been there for the net person regardless of the skin color, it is been black and knowing it. Black History Month is about a black past coming to light, whether good or bad; if we don’t shape the mold today, we might not have the time to gather it together.
To the teachers around the countries that celebrate Black History Month with their kids, we will like you to tell the history the way it is. The struggle is hard, but the success is real.
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