Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Origins of Black History Month

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Welcome back to BHFF!

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It did not occur to me that January 17th marked the two-year anniversary of this segment! Whhaaat.

My first post for Black History Fun Facts was on January 17, 2015 on Ray Charles and it got a ….wait for it…whopping 4 likes! Yaass. Special thanks to all four of the people who believed in me lol. Check out the first ever post HERE.

Also, do not forget that Black History Fun Facts has its own page where you can visit past issues HERE.

At the time I was just doing it through Black History Month. I am glad I extended it.


Black History Month is around the corner. You know, the one time of the year that people are genuinely interested in Black History. Good thing you’ve got The PBS Blog, where we hit you up every week and all year around! Today, let us explore how Black History Month came to be in the first place.

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Have you ever wondered why Black History Month is in February? You’ve heard it (or maybe even said it) “Why it’s gotta be the shortest month of the year tho?” Yea, that was you. It was me too. Before we get into that, let’s start from the beginning.

It starts with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, famous for his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, a book I highly recommend that you read (if you haven’t already).

Known as The Father of Black History Month, Carter was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard, and dedicated his career to the field of black history.

Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Box II 28, Manuscripts Division.
Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Box II 28, Manuscripts Division.

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). The next year he established the Journal of Negro History and in 1921 formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press. His goal was to center the contributions of African Americans. In addition, he went on to write a dozen books, including but not limited to: A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). The Mis-Education of the Negro is the most famous of these and is an often-recommended book by Historians and is also a book of study at Colleges. It centers on blacks indoctrination into the American education system as well as touch on self-empowerment.

In 1926, Carter founded Black History Week. Black History Week eventually became Black History Month. It started as a program to encourage the study of Black History and was a week-long celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass (Born Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Born Feb. 12th) and this is why Black History Month is in February.

The Abraham Lincoln thing is odd to me. I never understood how he became such a good guy nor have I ever considered him a hero. The man said out his own mouth that if he could have saved the union without freeing any slaves he would have done it.

I didn’t make this up. You can Google it. Written during the Civil War, in one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous letters to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln wrote about his focus to save the union, not free slaves. Written while the Emancipation lay in his desk, not yet proclaimed, this letter is where the infamous quote comes from:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.”

– Abraham Lincoln, excerpt from Letter addressed to Horace Greeley, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler

In any event, in honor of these men the program was held February of 1926 and was later expanded to an entire month as late as 1976.

And that my people is how Black History Month (the brief version) came to be.

Don’t Complain

Personally, I do not believe in colors. I believe in nations of people. I do not consider black and white to be nationalities set in motion by the creator but colors created by men. I believe that each human person belongs to a nation with land, laws, customs, and traditions to govern them. No one is black, white, red, and yellow. This doesn’t even make any sense. Race was a concept developed by man to keep certain truths hidden. Racism, in short, is stupid considering we are all part of the human family. And, like you, I also do not believe that Black History is something that should be relegated to one month, (for me it’s a way of life) let alone the shortest month. HOWEVER….

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…please stop complaining people…

I hear a lot of people who, when February emerges, complain that we shouldn’t celebrate Black History Month because blah, blah, blah. You’re missing the point.

Knowledge is scarce these days, even the most common sense knowledge. In the age of information where its “cool to be conscious”, people aren’t as “awake” as they think they are. That said, if Black History Month is an opportunity for you to share knowledge and to introduce something to people at a time where they would otherwise not pay any attention, then just do it. It doesn’t have anything to do with “celebrating black history month” but rather spreading truth. If Black History Month helps people to understand who they are because their minds are open more now, then by all means take advantage of it and stop complaining. OK so the month is short. That just means you better pack as much information into these 28 days as you can.

*Steps off soapbox*

And now, for my favorite Carter G. Woodson Quote:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

— Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”

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