It’s February 1st so you know what that means. Not just a brand new month or rent day — it’s Black History Month. From today until Thursday, February 28, Americans are suppose to honor generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve great things in this country and change the world as we know it. But would you believe that it all started out as just a week. That’s right, back in 1926, Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.”
According to sources, that week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12th and of Frederick Douglass on February 14th, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. Woodson believed that teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society.
He once proclaimed,
If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record.
He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.
By 1970, it was on and poppin. President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Now, it’s engraved in most Black people’s psyche that in February, we go harder on the Black celebration.
Luckily for most of us, we go hard about Black accomplishments everyday. But probably not as hard as we should.
BHM has become so commercial that every year, folks highlight the same few heroic African Americans. No disrespect to Martin Luther King, Harriet Tumbman and Rosa Parks, but there are so many other Black folks who have done amazing things in this country and for this country. @Audiosexual made a good point. She tweeted, “Happy Black History Month!! Don’t quote MLK or the incorrect version of Sojourner Truth or any of the other same 4 Black people you saw on the walls of your middle school in February. Give your $ to Black Women.”
So today is the day we test your Black History knowledge. Take the quiz below to find out how much you know about your African American history.