With February being Black History Month here in the U.S., hundreds and thousands of African Americans take this time of the year to celebrate and observe strong and intellectual black leaders and pioneers who came before us. But many people don’t question how Black Month History really came to be. Who created Black History Month, what purpose did it initially serve, what has something formed over a hundred years shaped out today?
In September 1915, after half a century of the Thirteenth Amendment coming into place, Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded ASNLH, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization dedicated to the study and appreciation of African-American History. Better known as ASALH today, (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) a national Negro History week was sponsored in 1926. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
Decades following after the Negro History week, mayors of cities across the U.S. furnished yearly rulings acknowledging Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, with impact from the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on numerous college campuses.
President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2020 theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” is in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting women’s suffrage and the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) giving black men the right to vote.
Here at Owings Mills High, African Americans make up the majority of the student body. As far as celebrating Black History Month, morning announcements each day talk about a significant black figure from history and their impact on society. The front office has made a Black History Month bulletin board with black figures, eras, and locations. The Learning Common has set out a Black History Month table full of books with titles such as Malcom X: His Life and Legacy by Kevin Brown, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis and Black Boy by Richard Wright. The Learning Common also has many African sculptures, portraits, masks, furniture, and clothing to celebrate this month. On Tuesday, February 25, music educator Bishop Moore held the “A Celebration of Music: Commemorating Black History” event for the public.
Even though Black History Month is only put into 28-29 days out of the entire year, black history is all around us. Many people argue that one month of Black History isn’t enough and should be embedded in America’s history. People believe “it should not have to be dug for or searched for. We should not have to wonder about its existence. It should be easily accessible and available. Textbooks, reference materials, and media should all be a melting pot for our history.” So society remembers black people are achieving great things and to celebrate them and let people know.