The Wildcat Tribune

Black History Month: #28 Days

Harmonie Yacob, Assistant Photography Editor

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African Americans and their commitments to American culture are respected every February with Black History Month. Throughout the many years of celebrating Black History Month, the primary focus has been the struggles of African Americans in history. This month, let’s choose to review the downfalls, but more importantly include and highlight the unknown triumphs.

Since arriving at America in 1619 as slaves, African Americans have battled for equity. These battles have delivered numerous historical figures and movements that make all Americans proud, but have also brought significant frustration. Following is a rundown of some of those events and facts in Black history that deserve to be spoken out about.

Let’s begin.

Black History Month is nearly 90 years old

Numerous individuals celebrate black history month but few know the real age of the celebration. Black History Month goes back to 1926, at which time it was known as Negro History Week. At that time, the acknowledgments lasted just seven days from February 19. The response from the overall population initially wasn’t as large as initiators had believed it would be. But, Negro History Week later picked up speed. In the 1930s, the celebration was seen in almost every state with a relatively large African-American population.

President Gerald Ford officially recognized the deserved month-long celebration in 1976

By 1969, the celebration of Negro History Week had turned out to be broadly popular in the US. This was, to a limited extent, due to the development of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Beginning in mid-1969, the pioneers of the Black United Students at Kent State College in Ohio recommended that the festival be increased from only one week to the entire month of February. In 1976, Black History Month was formally acknowledged by the government, led by President Gerald Ford.

There are 45 million black people in the United States

If there is one thing Black History Month facts show us, it is the critical part that the African-Americans play in American culture. There are currently 45 million black individuals in the nation.  By  2060, it is estimated that the number of African-Americans  in the US will have increased to 74.5 million individuals, which will make up 17.9 percent of the national population. Black men and women (and everyone in between) have had and will continue to have a substantial impact on the national demographics and culture.

Black History Month is also celebrated outside of the US

The United States is not the only country to celebrate Black History Month. Canada also began to celebrate Black History Month in 1995. The celebration was recognized in 2008 after a unanimously supported bill. In Canada, Black History Month is also in February. Another country that also celebrates Black History Month is the United Kingdom. In the UK, this month-long celebration takes place in October.

Black History Month was initially started by a college fraternity

Given that the majority of Black History Month facts are serious, it might come as an astonishment to discover that the celebration was initially started by a school fraternity. While going to Harvard, Carter G. Woodson was an individual from the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Passionate about black history education, Woodson recommended in a fraternity meeting that they should give more regard for African-American life and history. The suggestion was taken into account, and in 1921, the Omega Psi Phi Club started a program named Negro History and Literature Week.

Each year focuses on a different theme

Black History Month facts highlight that the celebration focused on a different subject each year. The subjects were initially set by Woodson to help focus the public on a certain aspect. The topics are not intended to restrict the celebration of black history, but to carry a vital issue into the spotlight. Throughout the years, the subjects have mirrored the adjustments in African-Americans’ status and self-image in society. For example, the subject for 2015’s Dark History Month was “A Century of Dark Life, History and Culture”.

February is a relevant month in black history

Initially, Negro History Week occurred in April. Later, when Woodson was made accountable for leading the celebrations at his college, he chose to move the occasion to February. He did this keeping in mind the end goal to respect the birthdays of two men who were a crucial part of black American history: Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The month of February likewise holds another huge date in African-American history: on Feb. 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed to grant voting rights to black men.

Celebration of Juneteenth was inspired by Black History Month

Before it turned into a month-long celebration, Negro History Week had effectively enlivened different celebrations of black history, including Juneteenth. This occasion, celebrated on June 19 consistently, was made official in Texas in 1980. It praises the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865 and celebrates the independence of the African-American community. Today, the occasion also draws attention to self-improvement and respect  for all communities.

Morgan Freeman does not support Black History Month

Black History Month facts demonstrate that the celebration has not garnered everybody’s support. Among the commentators is Morgan Freeman, a film icon and a persuasive individual in the United States. Commenting on Black History Month, he said that black history needs to be considered and celebrated past the month-long confinement.

He stated, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month? I don’t want a Black history month. Black history is American history.”

Freeman also brought up that there is no white history month since white history is considered throughout the year.

Black People voted at the highest rate in the 2012 presidential election

In 1870, African-American men were first given the privilege to vote after the Congress passed the 15th Amendment. The 2012 presidential election denoted the first occasion where the black community voted at a higher rate than white voters. About 66% of qualified black individuals cast their votes, while just 64.1% of white voters did.

The first female millionaire was a black woman

There are numerous cases of successful black women in the present day, including Oprah, Tyra Banks and innumerable others. The first female independent millionaire was a black woman. Madam C. J. Walker, born with the name of Sarah Breedlove, was the wealthiest African-American lady of her time. Madam Walker increased her riches by building up her line of beauty and hair products specifically for black women. Besides being a business visionary, she was also a philanthropist, making extraordinary commitments to education for black women to help them become independent and successful.

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Black History Month: #28 Days