Black History Month has been around for almost a century and it is amazing to see how it has grown throughout the years. In the beginning, it was definitely not a celebration everyone wanted to celebrate, but there are many more who have been here throughout all the years, watching this celebration grow. Around this time, African Americans were intimidated out of voting and other things that many other individuals were able to participate in. This was a big deal back then, but we now have more freedom of what we can do about it.
There were thousands of African Americans who wanted to spread the word about their culture and what it meant to them. That’s when the first Negro History Week took place in February of 1926. According to the article “Origins of Black History Month”, February was the chosen month because Mr. Carter G. Woodson, an African American author, editor, publisher, and historian who had the idea of creating this celebration, saw it as a way to represent “tradition and reform”. It is also mentioned that because “Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln played an important part in Black history, February was the best month especially because their birthdays are the 12th and 14th”.
Woodson started to get the feeling that a week was not enough, and soon took into consideration to establish Negro History Year, meaning the celebration should take place all year round. Although Negro History Year never fell into place, by the end of the 1940s Negro History Month, which is now known as Black History Month, officially began. This was a big accomplishment for African Americans. Woodson’s main goal was to keep the history going and not just for the adults he was working with, but also kids learning in schools, which is why it was very important to him to spread the word to schools and encourage them to teach this material. “He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year; Woodson believed that black history was too important to America and the world to be crammed into a limited time frame”.
Black History Month means a lot of things to different people and some people, including students at Atholton, see it as more than a celebration. Some students took the time to write in a blog that was made by Ms. Cheryl Grimes, a teacher at Atholton, and expressed their view of Black History or the excellence of African Americans in general. Black history is a piece of history that seems to be the last piece of information that is taught, meaning other groups are mentioned more in history than we are, and I feel as though we as African Americans have made a huge impact on history that most people don’t seem to care about. Many people, such as a young lady named Sydney Moore, who was featured in the Greater Saint John Cathedral Black History Month Special Edition Jabez Report, has strong feelings that Black History Month is a scam for Black Americans to feel included in American culture. Unfortunately, having that month doesn’t help make us feel any more equal. Why is it that our history can’t be taught and when it is taught, the same three people are mentioned? Our history doesn’t revolve around the same three people– in fact, many people came before them who experienced the same things and made equally important contributions.
As a Black community, we do our part by sharing awareness about different things we feel we aren’t included in, such as not always having a voice as others may have and allowing people to gain knowledge from us about things they may not have known about Black history– but are the schools doing anything? Mrs. Grimes, a staff member and leader of the Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) at Atholton High School, mentions that “in school the topic is not learned enough. I feel like we can do a much better job and I believe that about America in general, but Howard County specifically”. She was having a conversation with one of her coworkers about the African American author Tony Watson and it surprised her that her coworker knew nothing about him. One thing our school can be proud of is “the school community has made the Black History Month assembly a required event; I think that is a step forward”, said Mrs. Grimes. Atholton High School recently released a virtual Black History Month assembly that was very informative. Even though people had a choice whether or not to watch it, as a viewer of the wonderful presentation, I was educated about many things I didn’t have an understanding of at first. African Americans don’t always realize that they can be racists to their own kind, which is described as colorism. The shade of an African American’s skin should not determine whether or not they are Black. Colorism was popular in the time of slavery, as Black people with lighter skin had special privileges than those who were darker. Although the assembly was mostly about anti-racism, knowledge was shared about people in history who displayed their image as being an anti-racist, but were in fact very racist.
It is great to know that in this time we are not only able to learn from adults, but also gain knowledge from our peers. It really helps show how passionate some young adults are about our history. Our job is to continue to spread our history and help others gain knowledge so that our celebration is never left behind and forgotten.