Believe it or not, February is nearing its end.
That also means the holiday that began as “National Negro Week” in 1926 — which has evolved into a celebration of honoring black thinkers, creators and people who’ve helped change the world — is coming to a close.
But in recent years, people have questioned the relevance of Black History Month. Is it needed? Is it necessary? Is it racist?
And if the past year, chock-full of injustices, racism, but also reason to praise those making a difference is any indication, Black History Month needs to stay right where it is.
What remains the same is the importance of Black History and how we’re defined by it. Many historical and commendable moments happened in 2014 that are worth remembering. So while you were complaining about how short February is, engaging in these insensitive actions, or re-posting those disrespectful and so-not-funny memes of Black History Month, here’s what you missed:
- On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched a new initiative to provide greater opportunities for young men of color — a direct response to the challenges minorities face from a president criticized for often avoiding the issue. Dubbed “My Brother’s Keeper,” the new initiative will partner the White House with businesses, nonprofits and foundations to address the disparities in education, employment, social issues and criminal justice.
- This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Signed into law by the late former president Lyndon B. Johnson, the act was designed to end discrimination of race, sex, religion, color or national origin.
- This month marked the first time in history that the Capitol has displayed four African-American statues in its collection. The bronze-cast statue of Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks and the statue of abolitionist Fredrick Douglass were put on display at the Capitol’s Sanctuary Hall. The relatively new statutes were joined by sculptures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth.
- Beyonce not only gave us a great album during the final weeks of 2013, but she’s also set to make history as the highest paid black musician ever. The singer is set to rake in over $200 million dollars from her Mr. Carter World Tour when it wraps up at the end of the year. Bey also shattered records held previously by Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Diana Ross.
- Super producer Pharrell’s single “Happy” was nominated for an Oscar this year. The addictive song also became the highest charting Oscar Nominated song on over a decade. The record was previously held by Eminem for his single “Lose Yourself” for the film 8 Mile. “Happy” written for the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, is currently the number 1 song in the country.
- VH1′s Documentary Tanning Of America, gave viewers a look into Steve Stoute’s best seller and the impact of Hip-Hop in America. Icons like Mariah Carey, Naomi Campbell, Diddy, Russell Simmons and more gave a first hand account into the moments that groomed Hip-Hop and it’s profound culture.
- Meet Hollywood’s New “It” Girl. Lupita Nyong’o has captured America’s hearts in her Oscar nominated role in 12 Years A Slave, impeccable style and charming personality. The film is Lupita’s first leading role and we’re sure it won’t be her last. Believe it or not, the actress has won over 20 AWARDS for her role including a Golden Globe, New Hollywood Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. If she takes home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she will be the sixth black actress to win the award. Did we mention that she’s the first Kenyan ever to be nominated in the category? This is definitely Lupita’s year.
- Nick Jr. got in on the celebration with animated clips of Black History icons like Martin Luther King Jr, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Alexa Canady. History tells us that cartoons have a educational impact on the youth. Kudos to Nick!
- Scandal returned to ABC after a short hiatus to high ratings. Gladiators everywhere rejoiced.
- Black Twitter never ceases to amaze the world. Users were active and vocal, garnering support during difficult times (like for Jordan Davis’ family during the Michael Dunn trial) and Twitter ven took down George Zimmerman’s Celebrity Boxing Match. The petition, created by Janet Dickerson (@PRLady25) gained over 100,000 signatures and the cancellation of not one but two possible fights. The power is definitely in a RT.
- Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in any sport when he signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets last week. Collins played against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday gaining two- rebounds, a steal and five fouls. The Nets went on the win the game 108-102.
- Promising NFL player Michael Sam also made headlines this month when he publicly announced he was gay. The defensive lineman from the University of Missouri was named the top defensive player in the Southeastern Conference and captured the No. 12 spot for the best outside past rusher in the draft by the ESPN Scouts. If picked in the draft, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
- Tamron Hall, an NBC host and personality was named one of the official co-anchors of the TODAY show, making her the first black female anchor on the program.
- Famed poet and activist Amiri Baraka was scheduled to appear in a Harlem arts festival this month before his sudden death in January. In honor of him, the creator of the Black Touring Circuit Black History Month Play Festival turned it into an ceremony for Baraka. The new event was titled, A Tribute in Memory of Amiri, highlighting his role in the Black Arts Movement in Harlem.
- Because of Them We Can series creator Eunique Jones Gibson gave a spin on Black History Month with her creative portraits of children dressed up as Black History icons. Her project, Because of Them We Can, focuses on highlighting new and old icons for the new generation. Check out what she had to say about the future of Black History Month here.
What were some of your favorite moments? Tell us in the comments below…
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Facebook, Eunique Jones Gibson