It is imperative for Black History Month to be embraced by all.
Black History Month is a time for all people in the U.S. to remember and recognize impactful figures within the black community, as well as learn from historic mistakes. The month grew out of “Negro History Week,” established by historian Carter G. Woodson along with other important African-American figures like minister Jesse E. Moorland. Since 1976, every U.S. president has set aside the full month of February as Black History Month.
However, it is problematic that this month is not seen by some as being immersive for all people. Although the entire month has been dedicated to recognizing and remembering the history of black figures, it seems to only stay prominent for the first week. Afterward, the act of remembrance becomes an after-thought to other American holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day.
Some groups get upset when Black History Month comes around, but not for reasons you might think. They aren’t against black people, but feel the month draws attention to a negative time. They’d rather look forward instead of reflect on the mistakes of their ancestors.
What these people don’t understand is that the month is not designed to make people feel guilty. It is simply a vehicle to draw positive attention to the many members of the African-American community who have made a prominent and lasting contribution to society in their way.
The reasons other facets of history are taught is the same as why Black History Month needs to be emphasized. Kids across America take history classes in schools for the purposes of learning about how the past has shaped the present.
The philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
Black History Month should not only be embraced for the sake of continuing the positive strides we’ve made as a society, but also to ensure we never return to the past. It is through history we are to understand our surrounding narrative, and that instead of placing obstacles in our present it lends itself to better awareness.
Other advocates outside of the African-American community don’t support Black History Month because they feel like it compartmentalizes the achievements of black people. In theory, they believe all of that history shouldn’t be boiled down to only 28 days. However, 28 days of emphasis is better than zero days of prominence, and that seems to be the unfortunate general trend of African-American history in schools.
A poll of California social science teachers revealed that almost none of them adequately taught black history – even during Black History Month.
There are certainly pros and cons to this month of commemoration. While it ensures a specific time of the year where things like the civil rights movement, slavery, and incredible African-American individuals of history are discussed, it can potentially limit the importance and duration of these conversations. A solution to this problem is not only hosting more discussions during the year, but a higher level of emphasis during the actual month of February for the entire month rather than just the first week or so.
Black History Month is a commemorative time for many different African-Americans in our history. However, it shouldn’t be seen as a stain to make people in this country feel bad, but should be embraced like all commemorative months or holidays in the United States.