‘It is just like the [white] MAN to set Black History Month in February, the shortest month of the year.” Expressed purely from ignorance, far too many people are guilty for making that same or similar statement. In the light of Black History Month let us all educate self and family on the deep and rich heritage of black history and life. We can begin by learning the origin and purpose of Black History Month.
It was a black man who chose February as the time to celebrate black history and life. That man was Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History.” Dr. Woodson was a son of former slaves and came to understand the importance of gaining a proper education to secure one’s divine right of freedom. Dr. Woodson did not begin his formal education until he was 20 years old, going on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Berea College in Kentucky and became the second black person to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is noted as the pioneer of the systematic and scientific study of black history.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson single-handedly forged the celebration of “Negro History Week”-the second week in February-to coincide with the birthday celebrations for Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. The week was later extended to become Black History Month for the entire month of February.
Like Dr. Carter G. Woodson, we should make it a personal commitment to learn and share the historical and present accomplishments of the black diaspora. Dr. Woodson was ostracized and ridiculed for his dedication to the preservation and recognition of blacks in American and world history-even among black educators and intellectuals. We must endure ridicule like Dr. Woodson to teach that the embrace of black history and culture is neither being too black, militant or separatist. The celebration of black history and culture is not limited just to blacks, but is an inclusive commemoration to be observed by all racial and ethnic groups.
Outstanding. You have learned that it was a black man, and not the [white] MAN, who chose February as the month to study and celebrate black history. The next time you overhear a person making the ignorant assertion that February was chosen by whites to celebrate black history because it was the shortest month, please politely correct the person that the month was selected by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a black man, a visionary.
This February, erase your ignorance of black history and take heed of the words of Dr. Woodson: “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history. The accounts of the successful strivings of Negroes for enlightenment under most adverse circumstances reads like beautiful romances of people in an heroic age.”
This is the month to learn to speak intelligently!
Donovan Taylor is a member of the Louisville legal community, member of both the Louisville Branch and Chicago Westside Branch NAACP, concerned West Louisville resident and Chicago West Side exponent.