Monday, April 24, 2017
Home » Black History » February: Black History Month
Free NBA Jersey

February: Black History Month

Download PDF

Carter G. WoodsonBlack History Month, the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to graduate from Harvard University with a Ph.D. (1912), has become fully ensconced in American culture. Begun in 1926 as Negro History Week and expanded to Black History Month in 1976, Black History Month celebrates the contributions and legacy of Africans in America beyond the superficial, sanitized treatments of slavery and Jim Crow so common in mainstream discourse.

Dr. Woodson chose February for the initial commemorative period, Negro History Week, because it corresponded with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) and Frederick Douglass (February 1818). Backers of the lengthened celebratory period likewise found February appropriate.

Black History Month is a time set aside to explore the central role of black people in the social, economic, and political framework of the nation; a period of remembrance and reflection.

Dr. Woodson realized the importance of creating substantive content with which to infuse this new celebratory period. He created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 (now, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). That group crafted groundbreaking scholarly publications dedicated to filling the void in standard historical texts and literature.

I salute Dr. Woodson and others whose visionary, heroic leadership helped elevate the dialogue on black history. Still, if I had my druthers, there would be no Black History Month.

Surprised? As an author devoted primarily to narratives of the African American experience, one might suppose that I would relish a whole month devoted, at least nominally, to the history in which I am so willingly immersed. Why, then, this seeming contradiction?

My chief concern lies in continuing to isolate African American history, setting it apart from American history. The “Black History” we celebrate is, after all, part and parcel of American history, relevant not just for those of African descent, but for all of us. One cannot fully grasp the American experience without reference to African Americans. To appreciate the Constitution, to understand the Civil War, and to make sense of present-day political realities, requires some knowledge of the history shaped through the interactions of African Americans with the dominant culture and with others. Tortuous and painful though it may be, it is, in the end, our history.

Black History Month survives in large part because of neglect and obstinacy. Standard curricula overlook and shortchange the pivotal contributions of African Americans and other “minorities” and, by design or default, dilute history for all learners. Textbooks too often advance prettified fantasies masquerading as history, skimming over the difficult, painful episodes from which we have yet to recover. They marginalize the contributions of African Americans and other people of color. Though this has begun to change, the change has been incremental and, some would assert, glacial.

When we begin to teach the peoples’ history—that is, the history of all the people—in an integrated and balanced way, we will no longer need Black History Month.  That day has not yet arrived, but it is a day whose arrival I hope to hasten.

Download PDF

Comments

About Hannibal B. Johnson

HANNIBAL B. JOHNSON, a Harvard Law School graduate, is an author, attorney, and consultant, specializing in diversity and inclusion issues, human relations, leadership, and non-profit leadership and management.

12 comments

  1. alishakavel@inbox.com'

    Fantastic web site. A lot of useful info here. I’m sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thanks to your effort!

  2. bradford.ginder@web.de'

    Influenced by European culture, and by Christianity, the westernized minority first rejected their
    traditional African culture. Land ownership continues to be an emotive in Kenya’s
    social set up, and has been a central political
    theme even prior to independence. Since Mario is still in his teen at this age, he was unable to save his beloved
    cousin Stanly from getting beat by DK.

  3. sebastiansugerman@aol.com'

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about black history month.
    Regards

  4. adriannautley@gmail.com'

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good
    topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  5. sharihollway@freenet.de'

    I just couldn’t leave your website before
    suggesting that I actually loved the standard info a person provide to your guests?
    Is gonna be back incessantly to check up oon new posts

  6. audrey.jarvis@t-online.de'

    I have been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours today, yet I
    never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours.
    It’s pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all webmkasters and bliggers made good content material as you did, the internet will
    probably be a lot more useful than ever before.

  7. kurtis.atwood@gmail.com'

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  8. earnestine.cram@gmx.net'

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The whole look of your website is fantastic, as well as the content!

  9. danielletackett@web.de'

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Cheers!

  10. shelbyseddon@gmail.com'

    I was extremely pleased to discover this site.
    I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely really liked every part of it and I have you saved to fav to see new things in your site.

  11. iveyboniwell@gmail.com'

    Every weekend i used to visit this web page,
    as i wish for enjoyment, since this this website conations in fact good funny
    stuff too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

Timber by EMSIEN 3 Ltd BG
Get an NBA Jersey FREE
Bookmark this page
firstname:
email: