Thoughts On Black History Month

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By Henry Nelson | March 1, 2009

Ephesians 2:22“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” {{more}}February marks Black History Month is an annual celebration that has existed since 1926. But when the roots of Black History Month are traced back to its origin, what can be found? How did Black History Month begin?Black History Month means a lot more to me this year because of the history that was made with the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. However let us look how Black History Month started as “Negro History Week” in the 1920’s, but was not seriously observed. In an attempt to change the ignorance and distorted views people had about black history, in 1926 African-American scholar Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson organized lectures, exhibitions, meetings, and symposia. He hoped to get black history taken more seriously. The campaign was successful, and eventually “Negro History Week” was expanded to include the entire month of February. The month is now used to celebrate the history of Africans and African-Americans and to showcase study done on them throughout the year. February was chosen because the birthdays of important African-American figures such as Fredrick Douglass, and Langston Hughes fall during this month. Some of you may ask why is Black History month important? A commonly held belief is that Black History Month is not necessary because black people have made no contributions to civilization and therefore have no history to celebrate. This is the result of the attitude that blacks are “primitive” and “intellectually inferior” to whites. The truth is that people are just ignorant of the real contributions blacks have made. Black history has been absent in schools, and when this happens the myth of black people’s inferiority is perpetuated in the minds of blacks and whites alike. As Dr. Carter Woodson said, knowledge of black history would, “besides building self-esteem among blacks, help eliminate prejudice among whites.” Then, blacks will be liberated to pursue any endeavor as they wish. Working toward this goal is the whole point of Black History Month. Obviously, a White History Month is not needed because the contributions of whites are already acknowledged by society. Black History Month is meant to remedy this inequity of representation. The awareness of black history is raised during February by lectures and workshops given by experts on black history through universities, as well as by exhibits and programs given in public schools. Black history is celebrated in the community by concerts, plays, and poetry readings that focus on Africans and African-Americans. Black History Month is a time to reflect on the contributions that African Americans have made to American society and to the rest of the world. The two main reasons our accomplishments need to be highlighted and acknowledged is really simple but most people Black and White seem to miss the point.In my opinion there are several reasons while Black History month is necessary. It helps to dispel racist attitudes and beliefs. One of the cornerstones of racism is the belief in racial superiority. However, the notion of racial superiority can only exist if you’re ignorant about other races, specifically if you’re ignorant about their contributions to society. A pure racist does not want to know or accept anything about Black history or anybody else’s history for that matter. They do not want anything to shake the foundation of their racist beliefs. However, Black History Month helps to chip away at those attitudes by highlighting the contributions of historic Black Americans and also by spotlighting current Black achievement.Black History Month helps develop pride and self-esteem. Images have a profound effect on the way we see the world and the way we perceive ourselves. Historically we’ve all been fed a steady diet of outrageous stereotypical images on television and in films. Also the major news media will quickly report any negative aspect of the Black community. However it is reluctant to report on the many positive things happening in those same communities. In this day and age, shock value will win over substance every time.When did you last see a news story that focused on the following topics the huge and constantly growing Black middle-class, profiles on Black millionaires, profiles on Black owned businesses, the ever increasing numbers of high-school and college graduates, profiles on Black doctors, educators and other professionals? During Black History Month we focus mainly on historic achievements. It is true that past achievements help to foster pride and self-esteem. However, we need to focus more on the positive achievements occurring in our Black communities today. We need to spotlight the advances we have made over the years and celebrate how far we have come. In my opinion every Black History Month should be used as a report card to monitor how far we have advanced from the year before. This is one man’s thoughts on Black History Month.