The Continuing Importance of Black History Month 

  • February 17,2021 

Photo obtained from The City of Southfield News

In February, Black History Month is celebrated in the United States to remember African Americans' history and achievements. Founded by the Association for the Study of Negro Life, BHM was first celebrated on the second week of February in 1926. The symbolic week included the birthdays of former President Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, a prominent activist. He led an abolitionist movement to end slavery. In 1976, the celebration was extended to include the entire month of February due to the civil rights movement and growing awareness of Black identity. 

Carter Woodson played a massive role in helping all Americans remember the black past in the 1920s. He was the individual who created the Negro History Week and firmly believed that his role was to use black history and culture to showcase the struggle for racial uplift. His passion for history was prominent, and he hoped to share it with everyone through this celebration. Mr. Woodson once said, "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world, void of national bias, race, hate, and religious prejudice."

Martin Luthur King Jr. is known for his contributions to the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and his "I Have a Dream" speech, which expressed his dream of the void of segregation and racism in the United States. King's leadership in the Montgomery Bus Boycott burnished his reputation. Following his death on April 4, 1968, his fight for justice and equality resounded powerfully throughout the nation.

Photo obtained from Bettmann/Getty Images

Understanding the significance and accomplishments in Black History allows students to gain knowledge and an appreciation for the past and present situations of African American people. Participating in BHM events will help promote this knowledge and let them explore and analyze diverse backgrounds. 

Vice President of Black Student Union at Gahr, Jordan Kidd, explained, "To me, this month has a great significance because it reminds me of just how rich and influential Black culture is and has been to not only this country but the entire world."

Gahr High School celebrates Black History Month with three activities; an essay contest, a virtual art gallery, and biweekly facts. For the essay contest, students can write a minimum of 500 words essay to the prompt, "Explain how Black History has impacted current American culture." The first-place winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! The Virtual Art Gallery will consist of students' creations of 2D/3D Art, Poetry, Music, or Film Work, which they submit to the Google Form in the Black History Month GC. Biweekly facts have been posted every Monday and Friday via Gahr ASB's Instagram, the daily bulletins, and Homeroom GC's. 

Mikai Grier, the Multicultural Commissioner and one of the coordinators of the activities, explained, "To me, Black History Month is a celebration of everything that we as black Americans have experienced. From the not so well such as slavery to segregation to even the accomplishments of historical black figures, and the mark they have left for future generations of Black Americans."

Photo obtained from Robert Kozloff 

This celebration of African American history throughout February is just as important today as it was 85 years ago when Woodson created it. Experiencing it every year reminds us that the history of black struggle, culture, and race, shall never be distant or dead from our lives. 

President of Gahr's Black Student Union comments about what Black History Month means today. "It's about taking the effort to educate yourself on events in history that they don't talk about in the history books. The country that we live in today wouldn't be what it is without Black History. Black History is the very foundation of America's success. Black History Month is an appreciation of the influence of Black Culture. Still, that recognition should not be taken advantage of and then forgotten until next year when February comes again. Not only are we celebrating the journey of our ancestors, we're also celebrating our present and how we've come so far."

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