Appreciating the African American Legacy

The Story Behind Black History Month and Why It’s So Crucial

Appreciating the African American Legacy

   Black History Month, or African American History Month, is observed in the United States and Canada for the whole month of February. To understand the significance behind Black History Month, we have to look at its history.

   In 1926, black historian Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week” with the help of The Association for the Study of African Life and History. This week was celebrated on the second week of February which spanned Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th and Fredrick Douglas’ birthday on the 14th. Woodson hoped that the week would encourage the teaching of black history in America’s public schools. Woodson feared the African American community would lose its identity if public schools continued to ignore their history.

   The week was semi-successful, with only a few states willing to incorporate more black history within their curriculum. However, the social impacts of Woodson’s creation would prove to be the catalyst for the desire for African American history to be taught and celebrated.

   In 1969, black teachers and the Black United Students at Kent State University proposed to celebrate Black History Month throughout February. By 1976, Black History Month was celebrated by centers of African American social life and educational establishments. It was not until 1976 when then-President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month.

   Today African American History Month has done exactly what Woodson had hoped the month’s precursor would do, raise awareness of the history and contributions of the African American community. Not only have educational institutions embraced the month but also private companies such as Spotify and YouTube work with black creators to educate and spread awareness.

   The Association for the Study of African Life and History, which worked with Woodson all the way back in 1926, is still around today and is proud to continually celebrate Black History Month. Each year they designate a theme for February with the month of 2022 dedicated to black health and wellness.

   Looking at the rich history and achievements of people of African descent all around the world is extremely important and should be learned about and appreciated not only in February but also throughout the whole year, every year.

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