As we know, this February 2016, Black History Month has been one of the most memorable Black History Months of this generation. Not because we stated the most facts or put on the most plays, but because we have finally begun to tap into the true meaning of black history: The significance of our history and that we are black history. From Beyonce’s “Formation” presentation at the Super Bowl to celebrities like Killer Mike and Usher opening accounts at black-owned banks; African Americans have taken hold of what it means to truly make black history. As Black History Month has come to a close, the question on my heart now is, how do we maintain this energy year round?
In the past few months, as the embrace of all-things black culture has increased, African Americans have been criticized for their aggressive portrayal of “black love”. Shunned, as their approach is deemed unwarranted,too aggressive and racist. This embrace of our skin and history is a key component of what has driven black history from the very beginning.
The story of Black History began in Chicago in 1915 where Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. Inspired by the three week celebration, Woodson became increasingly interested in publishing the black scientific history in hopes to dispel falsehoods about the achievements of African Americans. In 1924 he created the Negro History and Literature Week and was instrumental in its widespread acceptance and celebration.
Woodson built Negro History Week around traditional days of commemorating the black past (the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas). He was asking the public to extend their study of black history, not to create a new tradition. His underlying desire was that people of color would extend their celebration and acknowledgment of black history the entire year, not just the week of negro history. In the mid 1960’s, a cultural activist, Fredrick H. Hammaurabi, started celebrating Negro History Month and since the mid 1970’s it has been recognized and accepted by every U.S. President.
While knowing our black history is of utmost importance, being black history is even more meaningful. In order to continue in the same spirit of black love and progression that we have experienced over the last few months, we have to recognize that black history is now and forever. Every day an African American wakes up and strives for greatness, they are paving the way for the next generation. Black history is important for several reasons:
- It Tells Us Who We Are
- It’s a Reminder That Our Culture Is To Be Embraced
- It Shows Us That Our Gifts and Talents are Meaningful and Needed
- It’s Evidence That Our Love For Ourselves Is Necessary For Our Advancement
- We Are Still Making History Every Single Day
With the knowledge that with every step taken we are still making black history, there is no question that we should and will celebrate black history every day of the year. It’s not about competition, staying in the past, demanding retribution or even putting ourselves on a pedestal. It’s about the continued advancement and embrace of a people that have survived and excelled in a country that has made our people fight for everything we have from the very beginning. Black History is now. Black History is forever. As we march forward with our fist in the air, we are not only paying homage to the trailblazers of our past, we are paving the path for the black change makers of our present and future.