What’s the big deal with Black History Month?

Creative commons: Jack Delano

There has been a lot of controversy lately about why Black History Month exists. There are some people who stand behind the month and others who see the month as pointless. Regardless of how both parties feel, Black History Month is something that is definitely still needed.

Black History Month was originally called Negro History Week and was implemented by Carver G. Woodson  and Jessie E. Moreland in 1926. It wasn’t a month long celebration until 50 years later in 1976. According to History.com President Gerald Ford officially recognized the celebration and called upon the public to, seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. The month of February was chosen in order to include the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is also something celebrated in other countries. Places like Canada and the United Kingdom have their own months for celebrating black history.

The purpose of having a Black History Month is like what President Ford said, to honor the often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans thought history. Many accomplishments, inventions and records achieved by African Americans are often forgotten, misrepresented or not acknowledged at all.

The dust pan, invented by Lloyd P. Ray. The lawn mower, invented by John Burr. First home security system, invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown. These are just few of many accomplishments completed by Black Americans throughout history. Information like this is not taught in schools and as a result of that are forgotten. I personally enjoy Black History Month because I learn so much about black history and all of their achievements that I would have never been taught.

In the beginning of February, current Vice President, Mike Pence tweeted,

“As #BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay.”

This tweet is one example on why we definitely still need to celebrate Black History Month. The aforementioned quote from President Ford once again states that Black History Month is to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. Pence recognized the month by honoring the accomplishments of a white man. Yes, President Lincoln did submit the 13th amendment, which led to the abolishment of traditional slavery in the United States. But, Black History Month is about honoring the achievements of black individuals. Imagine how young black kids, who don’t know much about their black history, feel when they hear about VP Pence’s tweet. Some might be led to believe that Black History Month was only possible through the actions of a white man and that is not the case.

A month to celebrate black history is needed to bring awareness to the many contributions black people have made to a country that has not always returned the favor. It is used as a reminder that Black History Month can be celebrated by everyone but it is indeed about the achievements of black people throughout history.  Some might argue that having a month that celebrates only black history divides and separates the country when in reality, it does not. Racial equality does not mean identical treatment for all racial groups.

Once the calendar flips to February there are some people who ask why there isn’t a White History Month? A simple answer is that white history is acknowledged and celebrated everyday. I was taught white history many times throughout all of my schooling. Just because Black History Month exists does not mean that white people have not made tons of meaningful contributions to US history. The purpose is not meant to take anything away from white people and white history. The purpose is to once again honor the often neglected accomplishments of Black History.

Asian Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month are celebrated because the many contributions from them are not widely appreciated or recognized. Also these races are the minority in America. There would be virtually no need for a White History Month because white people make up the majority of America and have been the majority for years. Would you reward a student that always gets recognition or reward a student that never get recognized?

Black History Month is needed, especially in today’s society. With so many black children growing up in a world where they won’t be treated fairly, celebrating the prominent black leaders, inventors and abolitionists of their history would give them hope and a sense of accomplishment that is greatly needed.