February is Black History Month, or African American History Month.
According to The Library of Congress’ African American History Month website, Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), believing that truth and reason would drive out prejudice, conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.
The event was first celebrated in February 1926 and was expanded to a month-long observance in 1976, after the Black Awakening of the 1960s expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of Black history and the Civil Rights movement brought attention to the contributions of African Americans to culture and history.
Let me digress by saying that I recognize that as a white person, the story of Black History Month does not belong to me and is not mine to tell. I realize my white privilege, and it is because of my privilege that I will never fully understand the importance and significance it has for those in the Black community.
Here, I find myself working in a reporting position at a newspaper. So, I sought out voices who can speak on the significance of Black History Month.
“Black history month is important as an act of resistance to the colonial system,” Irina Amouzou, junior and women’s and ethnic studies major, said in a statement. “It’s an act of resistance against the continued effort to disappear Black people in all forms, from enslavement to police violence. The act of existing while Black is resistance.”
For Amouzou, Black History Month is about representation and reclamation. “Black History Month is a chance to not just offer up Black faces that have been sanitized to make white audiences comfortable, but a true chance to claim Blackness as a radical way of being in order to continue Black liberation.
“Black History is not hyper visibility; Black History is radical resistance. It is the spirit of revolutionary history.”
On the importance of Black History Month, junior and computer security major Ahmad Najee-Ullah said, “It is always important to remember history. It outlines where we have been as a nation and points out times we should never return to.
“Unfortunately, much of Black history has been forgotten. Black people belong to one of few racial and ethnic groups in the United States who have no idea where they truly came from. Names were changed, languages dropped, cultures suppressed, thriving neighborhoods destroyed, one with a park standing in its place.
“Much of Black History has been suppressed, whether intentionally and systematically or consequently and negligently.”
Najee-Ullah believes that Black history is about fighting racial and social injustices, but it is also more than that.
“This month presents a time to dig deeper. There are many lost stories to uncover, so many achievements to recognize, many of which have allowed for the freedoms and accomplishments of this country today. It’s a time to recognize the sacrifices many African Americans have made to help advance a country they believed in, even when it didn’t believe in them.”
Junior and innovation-computer security major Exzavior Duncan said in a statement, “The purpose of history, in any form, is remembrance. Recorded memory to remember past lessons from those whose time has passed, past transgressions from those [whose] significance was malignance, and past works of those who strove to push humanity further in the interest of peace and goodwill.
“However, the price of remembrance is the possibility of what is forgotten. What’s buried, hidden, not always purposefully, but still overlooked, nonetheless. Black History is one such remembrance, hidden away in the name of oppression against a people who fought, fight, will constantly fight for their equality.”
Duncan went on to explain that this does not take away from the importance of Black history; Black people and their achievements have been significant throughout U.S. history.
“[African-Americans’] innovations, activism, and works have solidified a legacy that, while almost untold, have built and progressed this country to where it is today. Although far from perfect, or even preferable, there is absolutely no doubt of the significance of deeds that Black people have put towards the present and future of United States, thereby ensuring the importance of Black History.”
And yet, according to Duncan, it is still overlooked.
“Overlooked because of the reality it reveals in the culture and society of the US, and, even worse, the immorality of the predecessors of the oppressors alive today,” Duncan said. “And so, to bring attention to Black History, it is critical that Black History Month is celebrated.
“To be fully honest, Black history deserves more than a measly month; however, the celebration of Black History Month every year is a step in the correct direction towards a progressive and equal society who can learn from its mistakes to connect people in such a way that ensures an efficacious future.”
Black History Month remembers Black history in its entirety, acknowledging those who struggled and still struggle to achieve autonomy as American citizens and celebrating the accomplishments of Black people.