By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
Today marks the start of Black History Month, the time where we bring to the forefront the contributions, achievements and impact African Americans have made here in the United States.
I have had good friends and colleagues argue with solid reasoning that we should do away with Black History Month. Black History is American History and as long as we set aside February to discuss Black History, America will never be forced to look it as part of American History.
Others have said that it is an injustice – actually an insult – to cram all of achievements of African Americans into the shortest month of the year.
I hear you. I understand why people feel that way. But I will ask that if you think things through, especially with everything that has happened over the past several years – especially in 2020 – Black History Month is more important than ever.
First, a quick overview.
Black History Month started off as Negro History Week by legendary historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, second the second week of the February because it coincided with the birthdays of great abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Woodson hoped the week would become an annual celebration of Black accomplishment that had been all but forgotten or ignored by the larger media and historians.
President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month as part of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, six years after the idea began by Black students and educators at Kent State University in Ohio. Black History Month has been a monthlong celebration ever since.
Wonderful Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley said she believes Black History Month gives our history a “short shrift” as if it is a minor history of American History.
Actually I agree.
Then in my home state of Texas, there was this popular African American county commissioner who refused all speaking engagements during Black History Month, saying if he is good enough to have his words be of importance during Black History Month, they should be important enough to listen to the other 11 months of the year.
I agree with that, too.
My feeling is until we reach a time in American where Black History is treated like American History, there will always be a need for Black History Month. Now more than ever. That is never ending work for an issue that shouldn’t be work, but here we are, still. We must continue to effort to make sure with everything we have to make sure that Black History gets its proper due as American History. That does not mean we have to lose Black History Month to do it. Not at all. In many ways, Black History Month helps us make that case.
When I witnessed a president of the United States end diversity training in the federal government because he felt it wasn’t pro-American enough, and the publication of the ridiculous “1776 Project,” which grossly distorts the Civil Rights Movement and actually blamed it for “identity politics,” I couldn’t wait for Black History Month to get here.
In this age of fake news (Yes, there is actually fake news out there, but that will be another column), Black History Month is here to set the record straight – or at the least put our history up for consideration in the first place. Without Black History Month we lose that extra avenue to keep preaching to everyone who will listen.
There is an active effort to distort American History and Black History in high places. How many times have you heard some people say, particularly from the South, the Civil War was not about slavery?
That is just one gross effort to re-write history books in what the most recent past president calls “patriotic education.”
Patriotic education is what you get in Russia. Patriotic education is what you get in China – where all the warts of history are washed away to give slanted point of view.
That’s not America. That’s not our history. Ms. Riley said it best in the column I quoted earlier, there would be no American History without Black History.
So yes, celebrate it. Celebrated with a full-throat, an open heart and as loud as we can proclaim it. It’s Black History Month, dammit. And we will continue to celebrate it until we are doing it all the time.
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