Black History is not just an acknowledgement of the past, but a commitment to the future
Carter G. Woodson – known as the “father of Black History” – created the celebration of Black accomplishment in 1926. At the time as it is today, Americans celebrated commemorative dates in our history as well as beloved leader’s birthdays. Carter G. Woodson placed Black History Month in February because it originally coincides with the birthdates of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas. He recognized the impact and the power that comes from knowing and furthering the causes of what our “forebears have accomplished.”
Black History Month was first recognized nationally in a speech by President Gerald Ford in 1976. In that speech, he challenged America to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
In 1986, Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law with the goal of bringing awareness to the Black struggle for freedom.
Now, celebrating Black History is not just an acknowledgement of the past, but a commitment to the future. Black history is American history. Understanding past barriers to progress for marginalized individuals, specifically people of color, helps us better recognize systems that still produce discriminatory practices and disparate outcomes. Knowing Black History not only helps us recognize these systems, it also makes clear that these systems affect more than just the marginalized and people of color. Systems of racism and oppression hurt us all.