History of Black Months
The Black Month is celebrated with a lot of valor and enthusiasm in the United States. It is a time when the contribution of the Black Afro-Americans is acknowledged, recognized and celebrated on a national level. But what lead to the black month becoming what it is today and what is the history of the black month? In this article, we take a journey to the past to explore interesting facts and timeline of the history of black month.
What Is Black Month?
In the United States of America, the black month is of immense significance. Initially, it was celebrated as the Negro history week and gradually it turned into a full-fledged month. It is a time which is dedicated every year to appreciate and celebrate the role of Afro-Americans for the country. It also celebrates the achievements of the Black People. The concept of the black month was noted by acclaimed historian Carter G. Woodson.
February – Annual Black Month
February each year is specified as the black month and annual celebrations are carried out in this regard. From the year 1976 onwards till present date, every assigned US president has elected February as the black month officially. The celebrations of this month are not only restricted to America but other countries like the UK and Canada also take part in it. These countries also annually specify a month to celebrate the Black people.
What Happens During The Celebrations?
A very interesting thing to know is what exactly happens during the month. Each year February in the United States is dedicated as the Black Month. Hence a string of celebratory events is carried out during this time. There are events, gala dinners, concerts and public debates that are carried out during this time. On the educational front, school and colleges begin to teach the students about the achievements of popular Black figures in the past which include Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Rosa Parkers.
Overview of The History of Black Month
Black men were presumably non-existent for the historians and white Americans for a very, very long time. The history of this month goes back to the time in the past when colonization in the country was at its peak and the Black men were treated nothing but as slaves. The struggle of the Black people to break out of this slavery and be seen as equals in the country is as tedious and gruesome as one can imagine it to be. The story can be highlighted in a timeline of events. Read ahead in this article as we do so !
Yearly Freedom Celebrations In 1915
The story kicks start during the summer time of 1915 year. Carter G. Woodson (who was to later coin the Negro Week title) traveled to Washington D.C along with his friends. He was a fresh graduate of the University of Chicago at the time and was traveling to D.C to take part in the yearly freedom celebrations arranged by the Illinois State.
What Did The Exhibition Highlight?
The exhibition that was being held in sponsorship by the state of Illinois highlighted the struggles and all the Afro-Americans had achieved since the time they had defeated slavery. The most notable thing during this exhibition was the tribute that was given to the black people. It was much deserving too. Although the exhibition was held in a very small coliseum, it still managed to attract more than 12,000+ people! Along with thousands of other people, Woodson also joined the sea of people who turned up to witness the revolutionary exhibition.
3-Week Celebrations Were Inspiring
The one thing amongst many other that this 3-week celebration managed to achieve was to become an inspiration. The celebratory weeks and groundbreaking exhibition were so inspiring for Woodson that he decided to promote Black people – their lives, struggles and achievements. In order to do so, Woodson formed an organization who would work towards achieving this purpose. This was the origin of the association for study of Negro Life.
Aim Behind Publishing Scientific History
There was a very definite and solid reason behind publishing the scientific history of the Black people in journals for the local Americans to study and explore. Wood son intended to give people a chance to explore the achievements and accomplishments of the Afro-Americans. Another purpose was to deny all false claims and rumors that surrounded Black people or tarnished their reputation at any level. As a black himself, Wood son was committed to highlight the important role Black people played in contributing to the progress and establishment of the American society.
Announcement of The Negro History Week
The struggles to make the Negro history week official began in 1920, the early part of it. Woodson was offered support by the graduates of Omega Psi Phi who positively responded to the idea of creating the Negro history and literature week. This was named the achievement week for Negros.
Although, the week for Negros made a huge impact, but Woodson was aiming for something even greater. This was the later part of 1925 and Woodson then realized that years and years of struggle would go into waste if some big measures were not taken in this regard. This is when he decided to take the responsibility and engaged his organization in the efforts as well. The first announcement of the official Negro history week was made in February of 1926.
Why Was February Chosen As The Official Black Month?
Woodson official made a press release and sough February to become the official black month. Choosing February to be the month of celebrating black people came with a lot of historic significance. The following are some of the prominent reasons of history that made February eligible to be the perfect black month. The reasons were mostly of historic and traditional significance.
- February marked the birthday of two very notable and important historic figures – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
- Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th whilst Frederick Douglass was born on 14th of the month.
- Both Americans played an imperative and undeniable role in making their contributions to the freedom of the Black people. Both men assisted the empowerment of the black men and women in America.
- By marking February as the black month, Woodson aimed to pay tribute to these two men and make sure that their significant role in the progress of Afro-Americans was recognized till lasting times.
- Another reason to choose this month was because Abraham Lincoln was also assassinated in February in 1865. So this was a way to pay homage to Lincoln at time of his birth and death as well.
- A very smart reason why Woodson chose February as the celebratory month was because it was already noteworthy in history for the Black people of America as they celebrated Douglass – his life and achievement during this time. So by choosing February as the official month, Woodson not only marked history but secured his chances of achieving his purpose to make the black month official.
Efforts To Proclaim Equality
United States of America was clearly on the pathway to become super power of the world and one of the greatest nations of all times. Everyone, not only the Americans but all other countries could constantly feel the progress and growth that America as a nation was making. It was undeniable. The only one thing that was clearly missing from America was equality. The men within the country were not being treated as equal. Afro-Americans were still not being treated with equality that they deserved, despite decades of struggles to escape colonization and slavery.
The main purpose to mark a month every year for the Black people was to promote Afro-Americans and make sure that they are recognized and appreciated for the participation and contributions they have made for the progress of America as a nation. It was practically a move that safeguarded the position of Black people in history till present date.
Extension of Negro Week Into Monthly Celebrations
Before he died in 1950, Woodson came to a realization. Even though a week was being dedicated to the Afro-Americans in February and was being called the Negro history week – he felt that it would not be enough in the coming years and would eventually come to an end. A week’s celebration would never be enough. This is why the efforts for expansion of the Negro history week into a full-fledged month of celebrations began. This is how eventually the black month i.e. February of every year came into existence. It is courtesy to each forthcoming president of the United States ever since who has designated this month and allowed it to stay alive in history.
Many countries have also followed and marked a time of every year to promote and pay homage to the Afro-Americans. As a result of long years of extensive hard work, the black people have finally managed to enjoy the position in the American society that they completely deserve.
Source1 || Source2 || Source3 || Source4 || Source5 || Source6