Maya Angelou once said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold history inside you. Angelou understood the meaning of lost history or the value one’s history can have on an individual.
If a person doesn’t know where he or she comes from, he is subjected to anything and will stand for nothing which is why history is so important. Then why should Black History Month be any different?
It shouldn’t but Black History Month is not just a month. It is a tradition that its real meaning has been lost behind its title. It is a tradition that has almost lost its essential culture.
Black History Month started in 1926 by the late great author and historian Carter G. Woodson who also wrote the book, “The Mis-education of the Negro” which was published in 1932.
Woodson wanted to educate blacks on their history, shed light on the importance of their accomplishments as a race, and show blacks that they are just as proficient as any other race.
Attentive to the lost cry of blacks in America who contributed much to this country, Woodson made efforts in showing black Americans that their identity is worthy and that black accomplishments would no longer go unnoticed.
Those efforts turned into Woodson dedicating a week of February to blacks in America. This week eventually evolved into a cultural tradition that continued well after Woodson’s death in 1955.
That week, formally known as Negro History Week, became a month known as Black History Month by 1976 as the powerful Black Power Movement took hold of blacks throughout America.
Yet the question that takes form, now, in the new millennium is do we need a month just to reflect on black history when blacks as a race will remain black 365 days a year?
Many can act as though the significance of Black History Month has lost its meaning in present day America but I believe it has not.
Black History Month serves two purposes.
It first serves to ensure that blacks know their history and recognize its importance.
Its second purpose is to enlighten America about African-Americans’ past, present, and future contributions.
So far Black History Month still proves to do so and will as long as blacks in America recognize Woodson’s vision and value it as previous generations have for years. Woodson’s purpose was intended to be long-term and its value as a tradition will stand for future generations to come.
Do I agree that blacks should value their history for only one month (28 days and 29 during a leap year)? Certainly not. As a black American struggling to find my own purpose in this world and deal with racial identity, objection, and stereotypes throughout life, black history should be told, known, and recognized and celebrated every day especially by black Americans.
Remember that Black History Month is more than 28 days. It is a culture, a tradition, and a lime-light on what blacks have contributed and still contribute to America. Value this month for what it is not only because it is an accomplishment but also how black history preserves an identity for Black America.