Why we need to remember Black History Month

February just started as of yesterday, effectively putting into motion the beginning of Black History Month. 

Taking place throughout the entirety of February, this month serves as an annual celebration of the groundbreaking achievements by African Americans, as well as a reminder of the central role they played in the history of this country.

Black History Month celebratory origins date back to 1915, when historian and author Dr. Carter G Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Through this organization, Woodson initiated the first Black History Week in February of 1926. It wasn’t until 1986 that the week was lengthened to a month by President Gerald Ford, as he urged Americans to “recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by black citizens.” Black History Month was finally officiated by Congress in 1986, leading many to take it more formally.

This celebration wasn’t that cut and dry, however. Whether or not they went about it overtly, many people, both then and now, disagreed with the holiday, claiming that the celebration was nothing more than a declaration that all other people are insubordinate compared to African Americans.

Others raised the idea of having a White History Month, since Black History Month was proving so popular. But what we have to understand is that White History Month will never happen, because it already happened, happens, and will happen; not just throughout all the other eleven months excluding February, but year round.

This nation was founded on white people and white values. Everyone is already required to learn a white-washed version of history. We all learned about the Founding Fathers and their importance to American history, but there were Indigenous, Black and other people creating history at the same time – with a fraction of the attention compared to their white compatriots.

More food for thought: white people are still seen as the “default race.” July 4th is considered the biggest All-American holiday in the country celebrating its independence. However, the Declaration of Independence was only applicable to its white citizens; it didn’t hold much value for the black people still being enslaved and Indigenous people being forced out of their homes at the time.

We need to understand that when people complain about a lack of a White History Month, they’re really just finding a way to ignore the fact that inequality still exists in the country. 

Celebrating one’s whiteness in order to be “fair” would actually have the opposite effect, due to the immeasurable amounts of white celebration that have already been had.

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