Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African American diaspora. This is the month that all of the hard work of the people who put in for African Americans to be free is celebrated.
It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in October.
Black History Month evolved from the work of Carter G. Woodson, an African American, in the 1920s. He established Black History Week as a week of celebration to follow the year’s study of Black history. The week he chose contained the birth-dates of two people significant to the ability of people of African descent to be free to obtain an education.
The week includes February 12th for President Lincoln, who brought emancipation into the law in the United States, and February 14th for Frederick Douglas, who advocated for Blacks to do what they could within their own country to lead to a better life for all Black people.
In the 1950s, the Canadian Negro Women’s Association brought the celebration to Toronto, Ontario.
By 1978, the Ontario Black History Society, whose mandate includes the promotion of Black history education, successfully petitioned the City of Toronto to have the now monthly celebration formally recognized.
The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) is a non-profit registered Canadian charity, dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of Black History and heritage.
The Society aims to foster public interest and encourage the interest of Black History through:
- Recognition, preservation and promotion of the contributions of Black peoples and their collective histories through education, research and cooperation.
- Sponsorship and support of educational conferences and exhibits in this field.
- Promoting the inclusion of material on Black History in school curricular.
Toronto, many other cities, and the province of Ontario currently proclaim Black History Month.
But why have a Black History Month?
African Canadian students need to feel affirmed, to be aware of the contributions made by other people of African Heritage globally, to have role models, and to understand the social forces which have shaped and influenced their community and their identities so that they can feel connected to the educational experience and their life experience in the various regions of Canada and around the world.
They need to feel empowered.
It is imperative for students to have a balanced sense of the historical contributions of people of African descent within this country. Students need to know a history of Canada that includes all of the founding/pioneer experiences in order to work from an actual reality, rather than a virtual reality.
As a group, which has roots dating back to 1603, and which has helped to defend, clear, build, and farm this country, the presence of people of African descent is well-established, but not well-known. It is not well-known because history has tended to record the acts of rich and powerful Caucasian men to the exclusion of any other group.
The celebration of Black History is an attempt to have the achievements of people of African descent in Canada and around the world included. (By Rosemary Sadlier, President, Ontario Black History Society)
February is African American History Month
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
“From Emancipation to Inauguration and Beyond”
As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice.
His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.
The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration.
At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week.
The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.
The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. 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.”
That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.
(Excerpt from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)
Black History Month sparks an annual debate about the continued usefulness and fairness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one race. Many people hold concerns about black history being delegated to a single month and the “hero worship” of some of the historical figures often recognized.
Morgan Freeman, a critic of Black History Month, said:
“I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”
TOP 10 AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN – Celebrated
She has also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. She was born in Lorain, Ohio, with Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy noted as her favorite authors.
2. Maya Angelou. Born Marguerite Ann Johnson, on April 4th, 1928, she was most noted for her prominence in the American Civil Rights Movement. She is also known for her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
She helped Malcolm X build a new civil rights organization in 1964, known as the Organization of African American Unity.
3. Condoleezza Rice. Born in November 14th, 1954, Condoleezza Rice is the 66th United States Secretary of State. She has also served as President Bush’s National Security Advisor during his first term. She pioneered a policy of Transformational Diplomacy, while beginning as Secretary of State.
She emphasizes support towards governments that are elected democratically.
She began performing at the age of 11.
5. Sarah Jane Woodson Early. Born November 15th, 1825, in Chillicothe, Ohio, Sarah Jane Woodson Early was the first African-American woman college instructor. This was in 1858, as a faculty member of Wilberforce University. This university had been closed for two years during the Civil War.
In 1893, at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Ms. Early was named “Representative Woman of the Year.” She died at the age of 81.
6. Cathay Williams. Born in September 1844, she was the first African American female to enlist and serve in the United States Army, posing as a man under the pseudonym William Cathay. She was born in Independence, Missouri. She served, at age seventeen, in the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. She travelled with the 8th Indiana through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia.
She enlisted in the United States Regular Army on November 15th, 1866, despite the prohibition against women serving in the military, and was discharged on October 14th, 1868. She died at the age of 48.
7. Lucy Diggs Slowe. Born in July 4th, 1885, Lucy Diggs Slowe was the first African-American woman to win a major sports title. She was also one of the original sixteen founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority founded by African-American women. She was the first Dean of Women at Howard University.
She died at the age of 52.
She began singing at an early age in her father’s Pond Street Baptist Church. She retired from performing in 1915. She died on June 24, 1933.
9. Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman. She was born in January 26th, 1892, in Atlanta, Texas as the tenth of thirteen children. She was the first African American to become an airplane pilot with an international pilot license.
On April 30th, 1926, in Jacksonville, Florida, Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman, along with William Wills, her mechanic, crashed as William Wills lost control of the plane.
Her leap measured 1.68 meters.
Thanks to Wikipedia
SPECIAL EVENTS: Black History Month Honors Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th Anniversary
Black History Month celebrated February 2013
January 27, 2013 by Leave a Comment