African American History Month
African American History Month, more commonly known as Black History Month, was started over ninety years ago, by a historian named Carter G Woodson. Recognizing the lack of public awareness of Black contributions to the history of the United States, Woodson organized the Association for the Negro Life and History which then went on to announce the first Negro History Week, set during a week in February that included both Abraham Lincoln’s and Fredrick Douglass’s birthdays. The concept was very well received, leading to the conception of several Black history clubs and the inclusion of the celebration in African American schools across the country. The event also inspired several more progressive thinking white teachers and scholars to spend time focusing on and celebrating historical contributions made by the African American community.
By the 1950s, local governments all across the country began to take note of and celebrate Negro History Week. The event had also become a powerful part of African American life and education. During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the contributions of African Americans to both American history and culture. In 1976 the celebration was expanded to a month and was recognized nation-wide.
This year, 2019, is particularly powerful as it marks 400 years since the first fifteen slaves were sold in the area that would eventually become the United States of America. With so much focus on the inequalities and trials many African Americans still suffer in the modern day, African American History Month is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the progress that has already been made in this area, as well as the impressive contributions made by our fellow Americans throughout history. So how can you make the most out of this event?
Here are a few ideas:
- Study Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
- Read works by famous Black writers, such as Langston Hughes, Virginia Hamilton, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, or Richard Wright.
- Listen to works by Black musicians such as the Jackson 5, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, or even Beyoncé. See if you can find someone you’ve never heard before.
- Look up recipes for and make a ‘Soul Food’ meal.
- Take to study the Harlem Renaissance and the marvelous works that came out of it.
- See if there are any local museums or other places that are conducting an event and take part in it.
- Watch a movie about African American history. Go to https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/29-classic-movies-to-watch-in-honor-of-black-history-month_us_5888ddc0e4b0737fd5cadfe8 for a list of several classic movies you could choose from.
- Study African American culture and style throughout history. Form a project around what you discover.
- Study the lives of great Black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, etc..
- Discuss what you learn with your friends. The best way to spread awareness is to talk.
There are so many things you can do to better understand the rich contributions made by African Americans in society. Take time this month to appreciate the sacrifices, sufferings, and victories of the African American community. Allow what you learn to enrich your life throughout the year.
Blay, Z. (2017, February 01). 29 Classic Movies To Watch In Honor Of Black History Month. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/29-classic- movies-to-watch-in-honor-of-black-history-month_us_5888ddc0e4b0737fd5cadfe8
Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, & US Smithsonian Institution. (n.d.). About African American History Month. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/about/
Joseph, P. (2019, February 09). Why this year’s Black History Month is pivotal. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/09/opinions/black-history-month- jamestown-400th-anniversary-joseph/index.html
Kaesshaefer, M. (n.d.). 28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/celebrate-black- history-month/
Walker, J. (2017, February 07). 6 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/6-ways-to-celebrate-black-history- month_us_5893a84fe4b0985224db537e