Today begins Black History Month and every February it's as if the same lessons are being replayed over and over again. Public schools will talk about slavery, MLK, the civil rights movement, Frederick Douglass and few other very well known individuals. As important as these people are to our history, black history contains many unsung heroes that need to be talked about and remembered.
Until the movie "Hidden Figures" most people had no idea that a group of brilliant African-American women worked at NASA, and served as the brains behind one of the nation's greatest moments. How many African-American's would have been inspired to become mathematicians, engineers, and scientist if they had known about these women?
Black history month is celebrated in the United States and Canada in February, but in Great Britain, it is celebrated in October. Unfortunately, it seems black history in England is taught much the same as it is in the United States.
Frustrated with the teaching of Black History Month in schools, a dissatisfied student, Samuel King, communicates his disappointment to his teacher that Black History Month isn't taught with much depth or with much pride in schools. Samuel criticizes his teacher, before arguing that education in school does little to satisfy his thirst for knowledge of influential people in Black history who seem to be missing from the lessons. He states, "There seems to be a lot you haven't told us, and you shut down and hold back on the bold ones who stand against the way you're trying to mould us"
European colonialism destroyed most of Africa's historical buildings, monuments and distorted its history. For example, in the fourteenth century, Timbuktu, in West Africa was five bigger than London and was the richest city in the world. Europeans stole much of Africa's great wealth and resources including its people.
The Beginning Negro History Week
"Negro History Week," created in 1926 in the U.S., was the precursor to Black History Month. Historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History designated the second week of February to celebrate because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.
"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. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization."
United States: Black History Month (1976)
In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
On 21 February 2016, 106-year-old Washington D.C. resident and school volunteer Virginia McLaurin visited the White House as part of Black History Month. When asked by the president why she was there, Virginia said, "A black president. A black wife. And I’m here to celebrate black history. That’s what I’m here for."
Part of the Court.rchp.com 2017 Black History Month Series