Black History Month: A reminder of diversity

Niki Patel, staff writer

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The month of February, entitled as Black History Month, gives us a reason to celebrate and appreciate the diversity in a nation we call home. Black History Month honors the achievements of historic leaders of the Black community. The impact African Americans have made on this country is part of our collective consciousness. Furthermore, it reminds all of humankind that Black history is our history. Contemplating Black history draws people of every race into the grand and diverse story of this nation.

The roots of Black History Month trace back to Negro History Week in 1926. This took place during the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Harvard–trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, is credited with the creation of Negro History Week. This event, along with the Civil Rights Movement, generated a growing awareness of black identity. As a result, in 1976, President Gerald Ford expanded the week into a full month. He said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too–often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Apart from correlating African American history to slavery and the endless suffering they endured in the span of centuries, they are connected to many other noteworthy events that have transformed the world. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks were pivotal figures in advocating the non–violent Civil Rights Movement and eliminating the barriers of discrimination. Frederick Douglass became a leading figurehead in the anti–slavery movement, and his speeches denouncing slavery were effective in altering public opinion. In present day, we can all relate to the event of the first U.S. President of African origin being elected, a major breakthrough in our country’s history. There exist many more famous, powerful, and crucial African Americans who have left behind a legacy. With the strong will of the African American people conquering victories, such as coming out of slavery, earning the right to vote, and fighting for civil rights, they have created solid foundations to build an ongoing legacy for the future. Although these extraordinary individuals have passed away, their message of equality continues to live on.

Black History Month is a way of understanding the struggles and sacrifices Blacks endured to achieve equal rights and tolerance in American society, something that has been historically taken for granted. It is about education, appreciation, and dedication. This month allows each and every American to celebrate the rich traditions of African Americans while at the same time celebrating those aspects of their own culture and its positive contributions to society. Black History Month is a time when people of African ancestry can come together in memory of our valuable past, a past that has largely been concealed from us. It is a reminder that our differences are what unite us together. It is a reminder that the one race that exists in this world is the human race. It is a reminder that diversity is an expression of God’s manifold beauty.

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