Why do we have to celebrate Black history? Who started Black history? Why is it the shortest month of the year? Why not celebrate Black History 365 days a year? Why isn’t there a white history?
You’ve heard these questions before. You’ve seen the t-shirts that display Black History month with the word “month” crossed out and with 365 displayed over it. People from the greatest generation to generation alpha will experience and learn about Black history. It’s time to answer the myths and questions. We’re not talking about “HIS-story”, I’m going to talk about “OUR-story”. The history of Black Ourstory.
The Father & creator of Black History is Carter G. Woodson, an African American author, educator, publisher, and historian born December 19, 1875, in Virginia. He was a self-taught scholar and attended college when Black people were allowed and became the second African American to graduate Harvard with a PhD in American history in 1912. The first was W.E.B Dubois (Google him), who received his PhD from Harvard in 1895. That’s not bad considering the brutal racism, segregation, Jim Crow, black slave codes, Ku Klux Klan, and lynchings occurring in the United States of America during that period. Woodson attended an African American symposium in 1915, which gave him the idea to create the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915 in Chicago, which still exists till this day, asalh.org. The ASALH mission is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community. Woodson published The Journal of Negro History in 1920 to provide an opportunity for people to learn Ourstory. At the time there was no publication for Black people to learn their history or publish their written works. Some of Woodson’s other accomplishments included his founding of the Associated Publishers in 1921 and authoring and publishing the world-famous classic The Mis-Education of the Negro. Woodson went on to create Negro History Week and was celebrated the 2nd week in February in 1926. Ultimately Negro History Week morphed into Black History Month in 1969 proposed by Black educators and Black Students United at Kent University and was celebrated February 1, 1970. Since 1976 every United States president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Now let’s debunk myths, silly conspiracies and bad t-shirt hustles. Black people of African descent and across the African Diaspora are part of a 96-year-old cultural celebration created for us by us with no one’s permission. Black Self Determination created Black History Month a.k.a. African American History Month a.k.a. Black Ourstory Month. Everybody feels slighted and thinks it was white racists conspiracy to give us the shortest month of the year…. That is false! The month of February was chosen because that was the birth month of Carter G. Woodson’s favorite people Frederick Douglass born February 14 and Abraham Lincoln February 12. Not happy with February being the shortest month, then follow the original proposal and celebrate Black History from February 1 – March 2. Now as for those t-shirts that want or “claim” to celebrate and study Black Ourstory aka Black History 365 days of the year, the question is “DO YOU?” Well, most of us realistically aren’t studying Black History 24/7. We have a month to concentrate on studying, reflecting, and empowering ourselves, families, and communities of Black Ourstories aka Black History specifically. Did you know there is an annual theme of Black History Month? There has been a theme since 1926 every Black Ourstory aka Black History Month by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (www.asalh.org) and the theme gives purpose and direction for our cultural celebration to be practiced ALL YEAR LONG. Hmmm so that cancels all the t-shirts and only celebrating Black History for one month. Black Ourstory Month also gives us the opportunity to study and acknowledge not just the usual widely accepted African Americans like Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Harriet Tubman; who are all great Black heroes and Freedom Fighters, but it also gives us an opportunity to learn about and celebrate Robert F. Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Sojourner Truth, Garret Morgan, Madam CJ Walker, Benjamin Banneker, Claudette Colvin, Shirley Chisholm, Mae Jemison, George Washington Carver, Huey P, Newton, and Medgar Evers. Go ahead and Google these Greats. We don’t start Black Ourstory aka Black History with enslavement of Africans but that’s another lecture for another day. For the trolls…. white history, a.k.a. social studies, a.k.a. history class, a.k.a. American history has always existed. Learning just “HIS-story” is incomplete, Continuing Black OURstory Month continues the legacy of the Great Black experience.
The theme for Black Ourstory Month 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness”.
Suggested Black History Month references:
- Association for the Study of African American Life and History (asalh.org) / Instagram: @asalh_bhm
- com / Instagram: @michaelimhotep
- Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
- Carter G. Woodson in Washington D.C. The Father of Black History by Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, PhD
- Black History Saved My Life, How My Viral Hate Crime Led to an Awakening by Ernest Crim III / Instagram: @mrcrim3
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