February 2021 DEI Article
“Celebrating Black History Month”
Written by Peonca S. Greier, CP
Do you ever wonder why Black History Month is celebrated? Also, why celebrate in the shortest month of the year? Well, it all began with a young black scholar, in 1924, who wanted to provide Americans insight into the contributions made by blacks in our society.
Originally, it was called Negro History Week and was chosen by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The second week of February was chosen to celebrate because it coincided with birthdays of esteemed abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The annual celebration was an effort to increase awareness of and interest in the achievements and accomplishments of blacks, among blacks and whites. Photographs, books, pamphlets, and other promotional literature were sent out prior to the celebration week to assist all communities – not just blacks – with celebrations. Negro History Week celebrations generally included parades of costumed characters depicting the lives of famous blacks, as well as breakfasts, banquets, lectures, poetry readings, speeches, exhibits, and other special presentations.
Later in the 1940s, the outreach increased with more and more celebrations, parades, and organizations that would hold lectures and rallies. Celebration of Negro History Week became popular in places like Latin America, the West Indies, Africa, and the Philippines. W.E.B. Du Bois noted it to be one of the greatest accomplishments to come from the Harlem Renaissance. In the early 1970s, the celebration was extended to the entire month and the word “Negro” was replaced with “Black.”
To this day, there is still constant pressure from politicians, communities, media, and the organization that began this endeavor to have more recognition of black history and the achievements and contributions of blacks throughout the year.
Please take some time this month to learn something new and join us in celebrating the history, lives, and achievements of blacks throughout our history that are often missed, unknown, or forgotten.