The Importance of Black History Month


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Black History month emblem, side view of an African-American Man.

Jessie Kellerman, Staff Writer

In 1986, Congress passed the Public Law 99-244 declaring the beginning of the 16th annual salute to Black History. Every year since then, February has been contributed to Black History and focused on the prominent figures that have shaped Black culture. 

Carter G. Woodson, the creator of Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, chose the month of February for reasons of tradition and reform. Additionally, February was the birth month of two prominent figures to Black History: Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.  

More prominent figures mentioned celebrated in Black History Month are Martin Luther King, a civil rights activist, Serena Williams, a pro tennis player, Barack Obama, the first US president of color, Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and helped many across the underground railroad to the free north, and many more important figures. 

Sophomore Morgan Parker at State High mentioned that Viola Davis was a huge influence to her. “I learned about her from my parents since they knew I would never learn about her otherwise,” Parker noted. 

Davis is known for being a famous actor in the movie, “The Help” and TV series “How to Get Away with Murder”, along with one of her most known books, “Finding me” – a memoir she wrote about her childhood and growing up with racism while young. 

“Another thing I find so special about her is that she is one of only 18 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards,” Parker stated. 

Celebrating Black History Month at State High has shown to have a positive impact on Black youth. Tayjay Jackson is also a sophomore at State High. “I first learned about Black History Month in Kindergarten and when I fully came to realize what it meant, I felt seen and appreciated,” Jackson claimed. 

Deja Ortiz, a music student at State High communicated what was most important to her about Black History Month. “I think it is important to share the history of where we came from because Black history is just as important as white history,” Ortiz expressed.

Black History is seen as important to students of color because it gives a feeling of inclusion and a larger representation of American history. Originally, Black History Month was Negro History Week in 1926, starting on the second week of February since it coincided with previously mentioned birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. 

In 1870 Black men were given the right to vote under the 15th amendment prohibiting states from discriminating male citizens based on race, color and previous condition of servitude. 

Then after the ratification of the 19th amendment, all women, including Black women, were allowed to vote. While Black women in the northern US were easily able to register to vote and some quickly became active in politics, Black women still faced discrimination harshly in the southern US. 

Later, because of the growing Civil Rights movement in 1960 and awareness of Black History, Negro History Week had transformed to the more familiar Black History Month and quickly gained recognition on several college campuses. 

Overall, Black History is an important part of US History and made a larger impact than ever expected. Even today, Black History is still widely celebrated throughout the US and Canada and will be for years to come.