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Black History Month

February 2, 2018

Photo Courtesy of Illinois200.com

Black History Month begins on February 1st, kicking off 28 days of remembering historic Black contributors to American culture and society, while discussing the history of the African diaspora. The celebration of Black people and Black achievements is a historic one, replete with events across the nation to commemorate the unique achievements of Black people throughout America’s history. Originally billed as “Negro History Week,” Black History Month began in the US in 1926, created by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History along with historian Carter G. Woodson. Originally selected for the sake of celebrating the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the original celebration was to be held during the second week of February.

However, it would not be until 1970 that Black History Month would be celebrated for the entirety of February, when students and faculty at Kent State University celebrated the first Black History Month. Later, in 1976, President Gerald Ford would officially recognize Black History Month during the United States’ bicentennial anniversary. After its official recognition by the federal government, schools, businesses, and other institutions of American life began celebrating February as Black History Month, and urging people to look back at all of the successes and contributions made by Black people not just in America, but around the world.

First and foremost, the month encourages a deeper look at the Black heroes that have become mainstays in US culture. From Harriet Tubman to Dr. Martin Luther King, to former President Barack Obama, Black History Month concerns itself with a deeper and more intimate look at the lives and achievements of those who helped form the foundation of the United States’ culture. Often, these figures found themselves at odds with not just the law, but the very culture of the nation at the time, making their contributions all the more important.

However, with racial tensions high, it remains important to remind oneself of exactly who the heroes of Black history are, without filter. Black History Month, in this day and age, serves as an opportunity to reacquaint oneself with Dr. Martin Luther King, the radical thinker who criticized moderates from a jail cell, and declared that no justice could be attained without radically reorganizing wealth. The month serves as high time to consider the history of the Black Panther Party, from its roots as a self-defense group, to the role J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI played in killing Fred Hampton and disbanding the Party. In a political and cultural time like this, Black History Month is the perfect reason to reevaluate the history of the nation, and look at it through the lens of those who gave, at times, everything just for the nation to live up to its lofty assertion that all are created equal.

Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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