|Professors shed light on Black History Month|
|Written by Melanie Lowe, Reporter|
|Thursday, 31 January 2013 15:45|
Welcome to February — the annual celebration of Black History Month.
For most students, the significance of Black History Month is understood, but the history behind the commemoration is a little less clear.
Consequently, it is important to comprehend where Black History Month originated from so that February can be celebrated the right way.
African-American historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson is the founder of Black History Month.
Known as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson established the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History and was the second African-American to be awarded a doctorate in history from Harvard.
In 1926, he named the second week of February Negro History Week.
“Woodson chose that week, and I think that this is an important thing to consider because it marked the birthdays of both black abolitionist Frederick Douglass and anti-slavery president Abraham Lincoln,” Touré F. Reed, associate professor of history, said.
But Woodson did not want Negro History Week to last forever.
Instead, he longed for a time when black history would be essential to American history.
“Woodson often said he hoped for a time when Negro History Week would be unnecessary. Our continuing to feature Black History Month says something in itself,” Ricardo Cruz, English professor, said.
In 1976, Negro History Week was officially changed to Black History Month.
Currently, African-American history cannot be understood without a
conscious sense of both the history of the U.S. and the great effect of
African-Americans on the U.S.
“Scholars like Woodson and W.E.B. Du Bois laid the groundwork for
incorporating the study of black Americans into the study of American
history generally,” Reed said.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate well-known leaders, such
as Martin Luther King Jr., as well as to give praise to inspiring
African-Americans who have been overshadowed in the past.
However, Black History Month is not solely about history. February is a time to move forward.
“It is not just about black history for me. It is the ongoing study
of blackness representing power, too. Black History Month signifies a
precious push to be heard, to be deeply appreciated,” Cruz said.
Most importantly, significant progress has been made since Black History Month was first created.
Understanding the history behind Black History Month will strengthen the importance of this month.
“The reality is that in the nearly 90 years that have passed since Woodson established Negro History Week, it has become a lot easier for students to study black American history,” Reed said.