Black History Month: Helpful or Hurtful?

Nevin Perkins, Op/Ed Editor

Initially stemming from historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week in 1926, Black History Month was officially recognized 50 years later by President Gerald Ford. The month was to be an official act of recognition toward all of the history and leaders who accompany it across the African diaspora.

There’s just one major problem with Black History Month that those who oppose it have expressed. Black History is only taught, embraced and celebrated by the majority of the inhabitants of America, the elementary and secondary schools, along with other business or literary institutions inside the shortest month of the year. How can all of Black History be celebrated in just 28 days? It cannot.

America provides its citizens with a Eurocentric, Westernized education. What little of Black History that is taught all the way through secondary education, begins and is primarily concerned with enslaved Africans who labored under the brutal conditions of a large part of American racism. Once the Civil Rights movement is reached and the Civil Rights Act is passed in 1964, the month is over and so much has been left out for students to learn. Apart from creating and pushing a narrative that African history before it unwillingly intertwined with European history is unworthy of knowing, it is a disservice to all the leaders we praise during Black History Month; most if not all were undoubtedly researching and in tune with the vast knowledge of their African ancestry if not for anything else but hope. It is a disservice to each Black student in the education system who gets a taste of their history during the shortest month of the year, only to wait another year for it to even be acknowledged again.

The opinions vary on Black History Month. Some say it pays homage to the Blacks who have undergone oppression, murder, extortion and slavery at the hands of America. What debunks that notion is that the idea implies the atrocities have come to an end and society has long since made all African Americans equal to White Americans. You can be the judge of that. One thing is for certain, there’s enough Black History for you to be able to learn something everyday out of the year, not just for a few weeks.