Black History Month: Why February?

Every Black History Month there’s always that one group of black Negative Nancys, and y’all know exactly who I’m talking about. Those black people who complain about only getting to celebrate black history for one month (come on, people, let’s not take it so literally. I would expect for you to celebrate your black history THROUGHOUT the year, not just one month because one month is dedicated to it, HELLO?!). Those black people who complain about Black History Month being the shortest month of the year (if it’s any consolation, February has 29 days every four years . . .). Those black people who complain about Black History Month being in February, but have no idea why.

So why don’t we educate them so that they can finally shut their mouths. Shall we? Let me introduce you to Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

Woodson_Carter_G

“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.”

—Dr. Carter G. Woodson

 

Dr. Woodson is considered the pioneer of the study of African American history. In an country built by immigrants of African, Asian, Latino, and European descent, we don’t really see that diversity in the history books.  Noticing this, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He also founded the Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he created Negro History Week, which occurred in the second week of February. Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two important men in African American history: Frederick Douglass (February 14th), an escaped slave and great abolitionist, and President Abraham Lincoln (February 12th), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, starting the Montgomery bus boycott, was also born in February (February 4th), and a key piece of legislation that was ratified in February regarding African Americans was the fifteenth amendment (February 3rd, 1870), which made it illegal for the federal and state governments to deny a citizen the right to vote based on race, color, or previous servitude, i.e. slavery. It was ratified in February, adopted on March 30th, and on March 31st, Thomas Mundy Peterson was the first African American to vote under it. With so many important events and birthdays happening in February there’s no question why in 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to what we know today as Black History Month.

Are we ok with our heritage month being in February now? Good.

Now, let’s turn our attention to those who complain about there being a Black History Month at all. I never understood why there was always so much “controversy” surrounding Black History Month coming from some whites. It’s the idiotic term they call “reverse racism” (which should really mean the reverse of racism, i.e. no racism at all, but don’t tell them that), and they claim there should be a white history month too (as if we’re not taught “white history” in school year-round), yet no one complains about Hispanic Heritage Month in September and October, or Native American Heritage Month which laughably occurs in the same month as Thanksgiving in November. Black History Month is essentially the same thing, yet it is a problem because of the subconscious war between white and black that has been going on in American since the beginning of time. When white and black were create (they’re pretty much the only races because everything else would be considered an ethnicity, which is why there’s such a person as a white Hispanic), the purpose was to identify white as superior to black. So celebrating white history is basically celebrating the history of oppressing and marginalizing anyone who wasn’t white.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s a quote from an article concerning this issue:

“This comprehension of whiteness could also dissuade many white people of such detrimental and pervasive racial notions, such as, “Why is black pride OK but white pride is racist?” If students are taught that whiteness is based on a history of exclusion, they might easily see that there is nothing in the designation as “white” to be proud of. Being proud of being white doesn’t mean finding your pale skin pretty or your Swedish history fascinating. It means being proud of the violent disenfranchisement of those barred from this category. Being proud of being black means being proud of surviving this ostracism. Be proud to be Scottish, Norwegian or French, but not white.”

You can read the whole article here.

Hopefully I’ve cleared some minds here, and with that being said, I believe my series on Black History Month is complete. I hope I’ve enlightened a lot of people this month, and we can go into the next Black History Month a little more enthusiastic and a little more knowledgeable next year.

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