It’s February ! Which means that it’s Black history month. The Black experience is, of course, embedded all through history and can be essentially anything we think of as ‘American’ history. The purpose of Black History Month however isn’t just to tell Black tales of oppression throughout the ages but to honor contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who helped shape the place we call home.
Negro History Week
Every year we have debates on social media about how these things should really be taught all year round. Super valid, as they should. In order to have patience with that process, it helps to understand where we started out.
Before we has a month dedicated to Black history, we just had Negro History Week. It was in 1926 that a man named Carter G. Woodson went on a mission to let people know what was up with other Black people. He started picturing a week-long celebration to encourage others to help him spread the word. He was able to start the celebrations the second week of February and did so every year after.
Then, in the 1960s, Black history became a ‘serious field of study’ and gained more widespread acceptance. That’s when Black History MONTH got poppin’. Word spread in colleges and universities first and then everywhere else. In 1976, the first President, Gerald Ford, made the month a national holiday.
Why February ?
You’ll probably see on social media people upset that OF COURSE Black history month had to be the month with the least amount of days. They chose the month of February because that’s when the weeklong celebration already was. And Woodard chose that week because it lined up with Frederick Douglas’ birthday, someone he revered.
Back when it was just a one-week celebration, a different theme was chosen each year. Today, the Association of the Study of African American Life and History assigned a theme to the month each year to pay homage to Woodard. This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness which is appropriate while we’re stuck in this pandemic.
Time To Celebrate
One great way to celebrate Black History Month is by shopping with Black Women-Owned Businesses ! Make an effort to shop with one each week for the next few weeks and possibly the rest of forever.
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