ORIGINS OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Black History Month started as "Negro History Week" in the 1920's, but
was not seriously observed. In an attempt to change the ignorance and
distorted views people had about black history, in 1926 African-American
scholar Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson organized lectures, exhibitions,
meetings, and symposia. He hoped to get black history taken more
The campaign was successful, and eventually "Negro History Week"
was expanded to include the entire month of February. The month is now
used to celebrate the history of Africans and African-Americans and to
showcase study done on them throughout the year. February was chosen
because the birthdays of important African-American figures (Fredrick
Douglass, Langston Hughes) and institutions (NAACP) fall during this
WHY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH IMPORTANT?
A commonly held belief is that Black History Month is not
necessary because black people have made no contributions to civilization
and therefore have no history to celebrate. This is the result of the
attitude that blacks are "primitive" and "intellectually inferior" to
whites. The truth is that people are just ignorant of the real
contributions blacks have made. Black history has been absent in schools,
and when this happens the myth of black people's inferiority is
perpetuated in the minds of blacks and whites alike.
As Dr. Carter Woodson said, a knowledge of black history would,
"besides building self-esteem among blacks, help eliminate prejudice among
whites." Then, blacks will be liberated to pursue any endeavor they wish.
Working toward this goal is the whole point of Black History Month.
Obviously, a White History Month is not needed because the contributions
of whites are already acknowledged by society. Black History Month is
meant to remedy this inequity of representation.
For more information on black history, see the works of Chickh
Anta Diop, Chancellor Williams, Walter Rodney, and Dr. L.S.B. Leakey, to
name a few.
HOW IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATED?
The awareness of black history is raised during February by
lectures and workshops given by experts on black history through
universities, as well as by exhibits and programs given in public schools.
Black history is celebrated in the community by concerts, plays,
and poetry readings that focus on Africans and African-Americans.
"February is Black History Month", from Ghana Review Vol. 1 No. 6,
Jan. 27 1995.
"Why We Need Black History Month--All Year Around", from Ghana
Review Vol. 1 No. 6, Jan. 27 1995.
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