Why we need Black History Month more than ever

Historians in the News
tags: Black History Month, Black History



Denise Oliver Velez: Feminist, Activist, former Young Lords Party and Black Panther Party member, applied cultural anthropologist 

I will never forget my fifth grade schoolteacher in Brooklyn, New York, giving me an “F” on a report because I stated that Egypt was in Africa. Thankfully my parents went up to the school and visited the principal, and my grade was changed. However, my trust in teachers (other than my parents) was eroded. I’m grateful that they taught me black history at home, because it was not part of the grade school curricula. 

As we move into the month of February, which is Black (or African-American) History Month, once again there is a spate of news articles and blog posts about “why we don’t need it anymore,” including idiotic statements from a certain black actress trolling for publicity. 

Ninety years have passed since the inception of “Negro 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 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.


In his seminal work The Mis-education of the NegroWoodson said:

In our so-called democracy we are accustomed to give the majority what they want rather than educate them to understand what is best for them.


Racism is not good for the majority, or those of us who fall into a category dubbed “minority.” Neither is ignorance.

And we have yet to eradicate the ignorance surrounding black history. ...




comments powered by Disqus