By EMERSON SUTOW
“Negro History Week” was started by a man named Carter G. Woodson in 1926, and later became known as “Black History Month” in 1976. The Month became nationally recognized after it was addressed by the former president, Gerald Ford, in 1976. It was said by The Woodson Museum that he chose February to represent African Americans since both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays were in that month.
African Americans are recognized in February because of their underrepresentation in American history and the fact that Americans try to hide their wrong-doings from the past by not teaching about African American mistreatment.
According to Julia Zorthian, a Yale graduate who wrote for the Yale Daily News, Woodson had “set the foundation” for the recognition of African Americans and their history, including when it was added to school curriculums after the amount of publicity from “Black History Month.”
Another accomplishment of Woodson was when he and Jesse E. Moorland founded the “Association for the Study of African American Life and History” where he devoted time to create “research and publication outlets for black scholars” and to gain support from people of all backgrounds, according to Korey Bowers Brown from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Many people also contributed to the African American Civil Rights Movement, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. In his speech, he addressed how the world should be a place where people of all colors can live together in harmony.
He also had spoken “over twenty-five hundred times” during a six million mile journey while also writing five books and many articles on the subject.
Many other people had a big impact on African Americans in their fight for equal rights, like Rosa Parks. Parks had defied social norms to change the status of African Americans when she refused to give up her seat and was later arrested for it. Aside from the repercussions, she set an example for the African Americans that wanted to fight back against the mistreatment and repression that existed in her time.
Another activist was Harriet Tubman who was known as a “conductor” for the underground railroad that helped runaway slaves gain freedom. She escaped her owner in Maryland to go to Philadelphia and help others get away from their days as possessions, allowing them be free and safe from slavery. Originally she was going to work with her two brothers, Ben and Harry, but they had second thoughts and returned to the plantation to work while she pushed on to free more African Americans from slavery.
These people all had one common goal even though they all showed it in different ways; they all strived for equal rights and treatment for African Americans by the people in their communities. There were many other people that were not named who fought for equal treatment despite the social norms back when people had slaves and there was segregation.
Even today unequal treatment is seen throughout different races, but people recognize these celebrations to help stop this unequal treatment and move towards equality, making the world a better and safer place.
Some students were asked why they thought Black History Month was important, here are their responses:
The California African American Museum