Black History Month

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

Black History Month isn't solely an American celebration. Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom all celebrate Black History Month.

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week".

According to the history, Black History Month was preceded by Black History Week; "The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 20, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

his 1881 lithograph, “Heroes of the Colored Race,” depicts prominent African-American leaders of the second half of the 19th century. Flanking Douglass in the center are Blanche K. Bruce and Hiram Revels, the only two African-Americans to serve as U.S. senators in the 19th century. The trio is surrounded by other prominent figures, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, and scenes of African-American life. Prints and Photographs Division

The history details the progress of the movement for the celebration: "By 1929, The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions, officials with the State Departments of Educations of 'every state with considerable Negro population" had made the event known to that state's teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event."

In February 1969, Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University were the first to propose that the celebration cover the entire month. From January 2 to February 28,1970 the first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State. In 1975 the celebration was adopted across the country when President Gerald Ford urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history".

The Black United Students 1st Black culture center where many events of the 1st Black History Month celebration took place

The United Kingdom got on board with the celebration in 1987. Canada adopted the celebration in 1995, while Ireland followed suit in 15 years later, in 2010.

According to the history of Black History Month on Wikipedia, there was some controversy regarding the celebration, including a famous actor, Morgan Freeman, "When first established, Black History Month resulted in some controversy. Those who believed that Black History Month was limited to educational institutions questioned whether it was appropriate to confine the celebration of Black history to one month, as opposed to integration of black history into the mainstream education the rest of the year. Another concern was that contrary to the original inspiration for Black History Month, which was a desire to redress the manner in which American schools failed to represent Black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects, Black History Month could reduce complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of "hero worship". Other critics refer to the celebration as a form of racism. Actor and director Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized the concept of declaring only one month as Black History Month. Freeman noted, "I don't want a Black history month. Black history is American history."

The celebration has been adopted and bolstered by social media. Instagram initiated a Black History Month program in 2018. The Wall Street Journal described the celebration as "a time when the culture and contributions of African Americans take center stage" in a variety of cultural institutions including theaters, libraries and museums.