Black History Month

Black History Month is the annual celebration of the achievements by Black and African Americans, and a time to recognize their role in United States history.

Black History Month sprouted from “Negro History Week,” which was created by Carter G. Woodson, a historian from Harvard, and Jesse E. Moorland, a minister. The week began in 1915, 100 years after slavery had ended. It occurred during the second week in February to correlate with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The week inspired schools and communities to host performances, lectures and form history clubs.

Believe it or not, there was a time when many important African American scholars, leaders and revolutionaries were not acknowledged in history. And although American history has been progressing, many blacks were displayed in a negative light. The organization had been moving forward with Negro History Week, but Woodson thought that the celebrations of black history would come to an end. He had hoped that blacks would learn their past on a daily basis. After a while, young blacks and whites on college campuses become conscious of black history and the week was replaced by a month. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month and since then, every commander in chief has followed suit.

Every year, students at the OHS learn about the same African Americans: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Fredrick Douglass, etc. Schools tend to skip over others. Why? The history textbooks were not written with the influences of African Americans in mind. Once the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s came along, America had realized how important their role in history was.

All are of importance, but here are some that are not often recognized: Colin Powell, the first African American Secretary of State. Powell served under George W. Bush and is now a retired four-star general. Stokely Carmichael, a black activist from Trinidad, led the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and was the “honorary” Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party. He had contributed to the black power movement. Next is Malcolm X, who founded the Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He preached self-defense and confidence in blacks. Lastly, there is Booker T. Washington, who created the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, which focused on training African Americans in agriculture. Washington was one of the many African Americans that strengthened the foundation for black education.

This month, students learn more and more about African Americans. Because of this, society has become more aware of what blacks have offered and given to improve, revolutionize and change the world. Happy Black History Month!