This post was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated.
Black history month gives you an opportunity to understand black history, what it used to be, what it means now, racism, slavery, and black achievement. To understand the present, it is vital that we engage ourselves with history. Importantly, this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. This theme focuses on the significance of Black Health and Wellness by giving credence to black scholars and how healthcare underserves the black community.
I must confess that in all my few years of study, this year, I really put my heart into studying the history of the black community. I must say, it is hard to be black and much harder to be a black woman. Hence, the justification for Black Feminism (a topic for another day). To have a slight grasp, you can read about the works of the like of Maria Miller Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Ida Wells Barnett, the Combahee River Collective among others.
Since 1976, Black History Month is celebrated each February in the United States. This time, February, is allocated to celebrating the accomplishments of African and African American descent. In the 1920s, it started as a week-long celebration and now has inspired several communities and events. We have communities, museums, government agencies, campuses and so on come together to acknowledge the contributions and impacts of African descents not only in the United State, but the world at large.
The Black History Month 2021 was themed, “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” which examines Africans in diaspora, and the expansion of Black families across the United States.
The Man behind the “Black History Month”
As the son of former slaves, Carter G. Woodson grew up working in quarries and coal mines. He is regarded as the pioneer of the movement/vision as I would like to call it. He is the author of several books that focus on blacks and their contributions to the development of America.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “Dr. Woodson often said that he hoped the time would come when Negro History Week would be unnecessary; when all Americans would willingly recognize the contributions of Black Americans as a legitimate and integral part of the history of this country.” We look forward to that time when we would see ourselves as One-humanity and do away with the discriminatory terms “whites/blacks and so on.”
Are you like me, wondering why the month of February and not any other month?
Woodson strategically chose the month of February and specifically the second week because of two important personnel whom he respected. To him, Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln greatly influenced the black American populace and their birthday were on the 14th and 12th of February respectively.
Even as we celebrate Black History month, I remain bothered with a few questions. Is Black History Month is still relevant? Is it still a medium for the anticipated change? Or has Black History Month become a time when the media put up their black materials and everyone around just want to show off or even just post something on social media?
There remains a chasm within the black community that needs to be closed not only for us to be able to think about how far we have come, but how farther we can go together.
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”