Black History Month or National African American History Month occurs annually every February to highlight, acknowledge and embrace the triumphs and successes of African Americans. However, education and the recognition of the central role African Americans have played in our history should not be condensed and only taken into account one out of 12 months of the year.
Instead, we at The Equinox would like to see a shift in our education system as we move forward, so as to integrate and include more historic African American figures into the curriculum. Many textbooks highlight significant white male figures and their role in history, but what about African Americans?
More knowledge of significant African Americans should be included in our schools’ textbooks. We at The Equinox would like to see more education brought forward in schools, as well as an equal focus on different cultures other than the majority.
Students shouldn’t just be spoon-fed names, dates and brief descriptions like typical history textbooks tend to do. Instead, the culture and history should be embraced in the same ways other more common traditional U.S. history concepts are embedded within our school systems. To cram an entire culture’s history into one month brings up the question of whether or not the other 11 months of the year are to be focused on solely white history?
Also, as it is, Black History Month has only even been celebrated throughout the duration of a month for 41 years. According to history.com, “President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to ‘seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.’” Before 1976, Black History Month was nothing more than a national Negro History week. That’s just seven days to reflect on an entire culture’s hardships and accomplishments over time.
Whether a week or a month, the point The Equinox is trying to make is that a time restraint should not be placed upon the opportunity to embrace and indulge in the historic knowledge of African Americans.
A possible idea going forward would be to introduce courses in higher education that focus specifically on African American culture. Lesson plans could also be put together in secondary education settings so that young adults are exposed to it before graduating high school. Learning about those different than us is an important aspect in coming together and achieving equality.
Through understanding, we are better able to connect with those around us that may be different, and so to be expected to gain a solid understanding by only focusing on this important piece of history for one month out of the year is not enough. Some feel as though labeling February as Black History Month separates us.
According to NBC News, “Morgan Freeman debated the need for Black History Month some years ago, saying he did not want a month long recognition because ‘Black history is American history,’ he said.” That same article went on to state, “Last year, Stacey Dash called for an end to BET and Black History Month, arguing that in order to end segregation, such entities needed to be abolished.” Since Black History shares equal importance as any other section of U.S. history, it should be taught and treated as such.