The history of Black History Month


Carla Balvaneda, Editor

Every year, Black History Month helps the nation recognize and remember the battles and accomplishments of African Americans throughout history.

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, alongside the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded a national Negro History Week.

The ASNLH decided to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; therefore, the dates of the annually commemorated week would align on the second week of February.

After inspiring other schools to take part in this week, mayors throughout the nation also recognized Negro History Week. During the Civil Rights Movement, the week was converted into Black History Month. It would not be until 1976 when President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month that it would be honored nationwide.

Since 1976, every Black History Month has had a specific theme. The 2018 theme is “African Americans in Times of War” [as it marks a century since the the end of World War I], the goal of the theme is to celebrate the roles of black Americans in every war the country has been engaged.

Throughout the month of February, many remember the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks; however, there is a plethora of other historical figures who made significant strides for blacks in the nation.  

Nine months before the arrest of Rosa Parks, which ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat for a white man. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was arrested. Colvin would be one of the plaintiffs in Gayle v. Browder which would later deem Montgomery’s segregated bus system unconstitutional.

Angela Davis is often regarded as a radical activist as she is known to be countercultured or nonconformist. However, as a teenager she engaged in activism by organizing interracial study groups, many of which were broken up by authority. Davis joined the Black Panthers and wrote books including Women, Race and Class. To continue her legacy, she became a professor where she discussed issues including women’s rights, race, and the criminal justice system.

To many, Black History Month is a time to embrace culture, celebrate accomplishments, and acknowledge the strides that still need to be taken for social justice.

“[Black History Month]…is a time where we recognize all the struggles and adversities that African Americans had to overcome to get to this point in history,” says senior Jazzlyn Johnson.

Today, ongoing racial tensions throughout the nation have sparked the formation of movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) which was recently founded in 2013.  BLM speaks out in regards to social issues such as police brutality and provides support for blacks who are being discriminated.

In his last season in the National Football League (NFL), Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick told NFL media.

Many celebrities have used their platforms to raise awareness about social injustice.

The release of Marvel’s film Black Panther (2018) is even said to be a crucial stride towards progress as it encompasses representation of people of color and exhibits black excellence.

Injustices and discrimination are evident throughout society and commemorations such as Black History Month are moments to evaluate, in retrospect, the changes that need to be made while commending the progress that has been made.