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The Importance of Black History Month

Leah Ally

Volume 4 Issue 3

March 13, 2024

The Importance of Black History Month

Image Provided by Texas Public Radio

Black History Month is a critical time of the year that allows us to reflect on the contributions, struggles, and achievements of African Americans throughout history. It serves as a reminder of the importance of recognizing and celebrating the rich cultural heritage and the immense impact that black individuals have had on shaping our society. However, racial injustice is still prevalent, regardless of how much progress has been made in the past decades. It is important that we take time to explore the importance of Black History Month in promoting education, challenging stereotypes, fostering inclusivity, and advocating for social justice. 

Black History Month traces its roots back decades to the efforts of Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian and scholar. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Woodson initiated Negro History Week in 1926. It was established to ensure the recognition and celebration of the often-overlooked contributions of black individuals in shaping American history. The week was eventually expanded to a month-long observance in 1976, officially recognized by the U.S. Government. One of the primary reasons Black History Month is essential is because it provides an opportunity to educate ourselves and future generations about the often overlooked or marginalized history of African Americans. It allows us to delve deeper into the stories of black leaders, activists, artists, and everyday individuals who have made significant contributions to various fields, such as science, literature, politics, and the arts. By highlighting the accomplishments of African Americans, Black History Month challenges the prevailing narrative that has often excluded or downplayed their contributions. It helps to break down stereotypes and misconceptions, fostering a more inclusive and accurate understanding of our country’s history. This is particularly important for young people who need to see themselves represented and empowered by the achievements of individuals who share their racial or ethnic background. 

Although more prevalent in the past, racism still exists in our society today. According to Forbes, modern racism can take on different forms, such as racial profiling, microaggressions, and systemic discrimination. It's important to recognize that racism is not just about individual acts of discrimination, but also about the larger structures and institutions that perpetuate inequality. For example, racial disparities in education, employment, housing, and criminal justice continue to significantly impact marginalized communities. It's crucial for us to have open and honest conversations about racism, challenge our own biases, and actively work towards creating a more just and inclusive society for all. 

One significant aspect is the influence of African traditions and customs, which have been preserved and passed down through generations. From vibrant and colorful traditional clothing to powerful storytelling through oral traditions, these cultural practices celebrate heritage and provide a sense of identity and belonging. Additionally, black cuisine presents a fusion of flavors that have influenced and spread worldwide with rich and varied dishes, spices, and cooking traditions. Black culture is also deeply rooted in the Arts, with remarkable contributions in literature, visual arts, dance, and theater. From the works of author Toni Morrison and poet Langston Hughes to iconic performers, black artists have left an indelible mark on the world of creativity. It's truly inspiring to see how black culture continues to evolve, adapt, and thrive, shaping the global cultural landscape. 


Honoring Historical Black Figures:  

1. Harriet Tubman: As an abolitionist and political activist, Tubman played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad, leading countless enslaved individuals to freedom. Her courage and determination continue to inspire generations. 


2. Martin Luther King Jr.: A prominent civil rights leader, King advocated for racial equality through nonviolent protests and speeches, most notably his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. His legacy serves as a reminder of the power of peaceful resistance. 


3. Maya Angelou: An esteemed poet, author, and civil rights activist, Angelou's powerful writings have deepened our understanding of the human experience and the African American struggle for equality. 


4. Katherine Johnson: Johnson was a pioneering mathematician whose calculations were instrumental in the success of NASA's early space missions. Her work shattered barriers and inspired future generations of women in STEM. 


Furthermore, Black History Month serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the African American community. It honors the individuals who have fought for justice and equality throughout history and inspires us to continue their legacy. By celebrating the achievements of African Americans, Black History Month empowers individuals and communities to advocate for change and to work towards a more just and equitable society for all. 


Black History Month is a necessary observance that allows us to honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial equality and social justice and provides an opportunity for education, celebration, and reflection. By recognizing and celebrating Black History Month, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable society for all. 



Carter G. Woodson | NAACP 

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