February 1 marked the first day of Black History Month. Did you know that the precursor to this critical observance was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”? And did you know that in 1970 it was expanded to a month-long observance by Black United Students at Kent State University?
We ask these questions because before we look forward, it’s important to look back to understand the commitments, sacrifices and love that brought us to where we are today. A quick snapshot of that can be found at the History Channel. And, whether you believe it or not – Black History Month is a month for all of us, regardless of race. It’s our collective history celebrating the past achievements and recognizing the challenges still ahead. So we say this, if someone asks you about why this month is so important, you tell them this (with thanks to Jemar Tisby for these points, with minor edits):
- Celebrating reminds us all that black history is our history as a society, regardless of our race.
- Celebrating honors the historic leaders of the black community and emboldens all us to similar action.
- Celebrating helps us to be better stewards of the privileges gained by the black community, yet serve as a reminder that there is so much more to do.
- Celebrating provides an opportunity to highlight the best of black history and culture, and remind us to do the same of all cultures.
- Celebrating creates awareness for all people.