The Importance of Black History Month

  • Published
  • By Stff Sgt. Christina Staebell
  • Equal Opportunity Specialist
The recognition of Black History Month can often be a controversial topic. Some opinions are that we should not have a month of recognition for one particular racial group, which excludes the recognitions of others. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some African-Americans may find it insulting that Black History Month is celebrated in February, the shortest month of the year. To address these varying opinions, I think it is important to study the origins of Black History Month.

African American history dates back to the American colonial period when African-Americans were brought to America as slaves. Yet black history was largely ignored by historians and the public until the 20th century. At the forefront to bring African-American history into public consciousness was a scholar and son of a slave, Dr. Carter Woodson.

Throughout his studies, Dr. Woodson noticed that the role of African-Americans in history was either misrepresented or missing all-together from the history books. Determined to tell the stories of black history, he developed the Association of the Study of Negro Life in 1915. Encouraged by a swell of support, Dr. Woodson organized the first Black History Week on the second week of February 1926 to coincide with the observances of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass's birthdays.

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960's reflected the growing pride and cultural identity among African-Americans. Twenty-six years after Carter Woodson's death, Black History Week became Black History Month, as part of the Bicentennial celebration.

Today, Black History Month continues to ensure that the recognition of the contributions of African-Americans in history will not be forgotten.