Why We Celebrate Black History Month

Since Carter G. Woodson’s efforts in the 1910’s, and the idea of setting aside a time of year to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans, disparaging remarks about his efforts and the idea of documenting and celebrating black accomplishments have been subject to criticism.  Unfortunately, even black Americans seem to have found Black History Month inadequate (celebrate 365, they say) or forget about it all together. Some people feel that the time has past for a separate time of commemoration.

Remembering achievements we accomplished as a people, and what struggles endured is reason enough to celebrate. But there’s much more. Firstly, the example of those who through difficult conditions, hard work, or just amazing intellect, still isn’t enough for some to relegate blacks to inferior status. Our posterity needs to feel a sense of possibility. Creating something from nothing, building on an idea or finishing a thought was the idea behind the psychological portion the plaintiffs in the landmark case “Brown v Board of Education” in 1954. Everyone knows the story of how the justices were presented with findings from studies of black children preferring white dolls over black ones.  Being who you isn’t inherently a bad thing. That feeling of inferiority, as sad as it sounds still exists today.

To honor Blacks that may not be recognized or remembered.

As time passes, amazing people and milestone events have been overlooked.  For example, people like Oliver Cromwell, a free black that fought in the American Revolution. Or towns that sheltered runaway slaves like Syracuse, New York.  “The Jerry Rescue”, or instance. Instead of a crowd or lynch mod of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, citizens help a runaway slave, Jerry,  about to be returned to the South because of the Fugitive Slave Act to freedom in Canada. Just two examples that we need to be aware of and remember.

To continue to show respect for those that have contributed to our gains.

Remarkable black people and little known events are constantly be uncovered. You can include in this category, all of those black firsts.  The first graduate from a given college, the first lawyer to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and so on. Respect for those great feats should not fade into time. We owe those pioneers at least the periodic remembrance of Black History Month can afford.

To make the accomplishments of Black people aware to all.

Since the summer of 1915, it’s surprising how many don’t know or care that African-Americans have achieved so much. Schools children today aren’t taught of the great works of black. Taking the time to pass on “Our History” is an obligation. Until ALL great Americans are celebrated, Black History Month is worth every day, every year.

To show the possibilities of success to our youth.

Role models are important. There are still children that believe that high achievements ad the pursuit of greatness isn’t worth the time or effort. Black history stories may be the only way to reach a disinterested youth.  The possibility of something greater that a modest existence may be just what’s needed to motive children.

To create awareness in the struggle of Blacks.

Most African-Americans are still made aware of the struggle. The struggle with law enforcement, the struggle with the “pursuit of happiness” and the struggle to have abilities and ideas considered, haven’t gotten much better since the civil rights movement. The struggle has just changed. Unfortunately, many aren’t made aware of “the Struggle” until they least expect it.

To grow and foster a sense of community.

The legacy of slavery hasn’t escaped the history of African-Americans. Tracing heritage is a unique part of a community. In fact, knowing your family, relatives and ancestors’ history is not just for Europeans or Asians. There are African fairy tales, legends and stories worth knowing. The forced relocation of blacks to the Americas has a distinct, well documented detrimental effect on the feeling of “belonging” that’s necessary to participate in society. 

In conclusion, the journey from illiterate to doctors and engineers hasn’t been that long. Stifling an expression of appreciation, admiration and pride is premature. Certainly people of good will are eager to hear more of the lesser known illustrious accomplishments of African-Americans.