If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Do you miss something that you never had? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Is intelligent design a reality? What is the origin of Black History Month?
The foregoing are questions that have been asked at one time or another by people. When looking at them, some are easier to discuss with clarity than others. For the most part, however, people respond to these questions through the lenses of individual taste. When assessing the aforementioned questions, the one about Black History Month (BHM) will be the easiest for a specific response.
The Black History monthlong celebration was instituted in 1976. Prior to that time, it was celebrated as Negro History Week. The observance was pioneered by Carter G. Woodson, a scholar who was dedicated to the accomplishments of Black people. He chose the month of February because two of the people that he admired the most were born during that month, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The celebration of Black History Month did not happen without an element of controversy. Complaints have included questions as to why BHM is observed during the shortest month of the year. That answer was provided in the previous paragraph—two of the people Woodson most admired were born in February.
On the positive side, February is known as a month in which a disproportionate number of geniuses have been born. This may, or may not, be true, but the ultimate lesson is that “the chosen few choose themselves.” In other words, people don’t have to ask why something is the way it is…they should take the initiative to bring those things into reality. This is what Carter G. Woodson did.
America is currently at a crossroads; symptoms of impending change are all around us, and the impact on the ideas circulated during Black History Month will affect the entire country. Basically, there is a wave of disinformation that is manifesting through book bans and through outright lies related to Black history. This is why it will be very important for Black people to take the initiative to ensure that authentic Black history is passed on from one generation to another.
Another thing that must be considered during BHM is the criticisms that Black people have of each other. This sentiment is partially sensed during the reproach of the observation of BHM. This need not be the case, however, if people would act on their own volition without going in lock-step with others who criticize their opinions. When we allow others to influence our personal version of a truth, it takes away a certain kind of freedom; the more we are concerned about hiding our true convictions, the greater we will sink into a sea of disinformation.
Because of the controversy sometimes leveled toward people who are open about the celebration of BHM, it is more urgent during the current environment to gear up and make sure that disinformation doesn’t slip into the mix. We all know by now that there is a contingent of the population that would like Black history to be erased. In essence, the truth is under attack and, therefore, we must be especially vigilant regarding protecting the truth of the Black experience in America.
One more thing. We must observe BHM for an additional important reason – we must honor those who have contributed to society and to the Black experience in America. This includes, in addition to sports and entertainment figures, Black doctors, lawyers, plumbers, architects, publishers, journalists, scientists, mathematicians, visual artists, cosmetologists, corporate CEOs, waiters, electricians, and more. In other words, during Black History Month, attention should be placed on ALL Black people’s accomplishments, both past and present. This continuity IS important because the nature and quality of our “present” cast its shadow by becoming the “future.” And again, we give special accolades to the great Carter G. Woodson whose demonstration of “Kujichagulia,” (Self-Determination), was a major accomplishment. A Luta Continua!