By Robin Abrams-Tolden, M.Ed
Do we still need a Black History Month? Well, is the history of African Americans well integrated into American history? Are the contributions of black people in America celebrated regularly outside of February? Sure, superior black athletes attract a lot of attention and recognition. Maybe it’s because of the money they generate for their “owners”.
But what about this year’s Academy Awards, which will air at the end of Black History Month? It appears that African Americans in the film industry have been overlooked. One might say that perhaps there wasn’t one black person who deserved to be nominated this year. However, Hollywood didn’t think that someone like Tyler Perry was worthy of their attention, so he created his own mega empire and proved them wrong. Just because someone says you’re not worthy, doesn’t make it true.
While it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted the development of the social, political, and economic structures of the United States and the world, Black History Month is necessary, not just to recollect a timeline of events and the profiles of a few important people, but also to remind Americans of the paths we’ve taken. Not so that we can disregard our diversity, but in a way that embraces diversity and stirs up a deeper appreciation of the struggles and triumphs of the black citizens of our country.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the founder of the original Negro History Week, once said: “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
Black History Month is a catalyst that inspires all students to work toward their goals in spite of any adversity they might face, which expands beyond the boundaries of the month of February. Black History Month encourages deep conversations, stirs up the memories of the elders, and stimulates critical thinking in the young.
More about the “Father of Black History Month”, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, tomorrow…