This week’s commentary is dedicated to those who had to hear the common workplace questions “When is it Caucasian History Month?” or “Why is there not a White History Month?”
February is Black History Month also referred to as African American History Month in the United States and also observed by Canada, and Germany (UK October) as an annual celebration of African American History. It honors the remembrance of the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
Black History Month was proceeded by Negro History Week which historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson along with Association for the Study of Life and History established in 1926. This was due to the fact that African Americans were missing or misrepresented in books and by the U.S. Department of Education. Negro History Week was selected for the second week of February to pay homage to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The initial response to Negro History week was not a positive one. Woodson’s primary intention was to encourage and coordinate teaching the history of black Americans in U.S. public schools. Despite the harsh beginnings, Woodson gained support from the Department of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware and West Virginia and the city school Administration of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., He considered that the teaching of Black History was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of our race within the broader society.
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”—Woodson
The transformation of the Negro History Week to Black History Month began in 1970. The leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University celebrated the entire month of February. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month and advised America to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
If someone asks, “Why we get the shortest month?” Please inform them that February was requested and we didn’t just get the short end of the stick.
Some feel Caucasian history is celebrated everyday so that is why there is no month delegated for it. There must be some truths to that for some other Heritage months include Irish-American, Jewish American and National Tibetan American. There is even Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
“The differentness of races, moreover, is no evidence of superiority or inferiority. This merely indicates that each race has certain gifts which the others do not possess. It is by the development of these gifts that every race must justify its right to exist.”—“The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Dr. Carter G. Woodson 1933
Truth be told, African American History should be celebrated in your home and lifestyle every day. Children of color should participate in paying homage to those who paved the way on a routine basis. Tom Joyner facilitates this on his morning radio show with, “A Little Known Black History Fact.”
African Americans have to develop a conscience concept that different is good and having pride in one’s self should not warrant damnation.
Many are persecuted for expressing their self-love as African Americans. Some even use the oxymoron term of “reverse racism,” which is unobtainable via acknowledging self. Pride in one’s self should not be used as a tool for discrimination or prejudice.
The broader society has to be educated that when one raises their fist in the air giving a Black Power Salute that this is one gesture of many to exemplify that the struggle is real.
Black History Month is and was established so that African Americans have a time to demonstrate to society that we have purpose and are functional contributing factors to our way of life.
We have to illustrate to society that we matter to ourselves.
Woodson wanted for us to be educated and aware of our history, because a race that does not know where they have been indefinitely does not have the capacity of knowing where they are going.
Honorable Dr. Carter G. Woodson set out to eradicate “mis-educated’ blacks in regards to American History.
When you hear someone inquire at the workplace about why we have a Heritage month and they don’t. Just remain calm, because your response could be, “You already know and were taught who you are and I just want 28 days to get to know me.”