“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?……….Black History is American History.”
Today is the start of Black History in the United States of America and Canada. Beginning as Negro History week in 1926, its beginnings were rooted in an effort to education the history of African-Americans (as we knew it) to Blacks in our public schools. Carter G. Woodson, the main catalyst for this recognition saw the value in teaching black history as a means to ensure our survival within the society we lived in:
“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.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Black History month then evolved into a month-long celebration due to the efforts of the Black United Students at Kent State University in 1969. It became recognized by our government in 1976.
There are many criticisms to black history month, as many feel that it is divisive and promotes segregation and racism. Others feel that the regulation of the history of an entire culture to one month is offensive and patronizing.
Here is how EYE feel: I agree with Morgan Freeman’s sentiment that relegating our history to one month is a bit disconcerting. I believe it served its purpose for the times that it was established in, however as we’ve evolved as a nation and people one month is not enough. Black History IS American History to the extent that this country was built off the literal backs of my people. America as we know it would not be America without the countless physical and intellectual contributions of the African-American people. However, Black History IS NOT limited to the boundaries of the United States of America and this is what I feel should be explored more; we are and were MORE than slaves despite the pat-a-cake history they allowed to be taught in our schools.
Is it divisive? If one felt Black History Month was divisive, I’d challenge them to open a history book from any K-12 institution and notice the LACK of education about a peculiar people who were key to building this nation. Black history should be incorporated more into US History, beyond Slavery and Civil Rights, and Black History Month is something that we are stuck with in our education systems until that changes. This would require a complete reform in the way that US History is taught, which I’m all for. It isn’t divisive because we celebrate it, it is divisive because in many cases this is all our children have to learn about who they are as a people (and that is just scratching the surface).
In the meantime, it is up to us to educate ourselves about our history in this country and beyond, and continue to educate our children year-round. We are completely free to visit libraries, or conduct solid internet research to make sure we know who we are. With that being said, we at Living B.A.D will be committed to celebrating our history in February and beyond.
Look at our babies 🙂 Listen to Nas speak that!
What are your thoughts? Is Black History Month necessary? Let us know in the comments section below.