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Black History Month Celebration - February 2011

Updated on January 2, 2012

A Celebration of Heritage

Recently, while perusing other social sites, I've stumbled across some nasty remarks about Afro-Americans. Several of the tirades contained comments regarding "why do they need their own month celebrating Black History".

You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt, But still, like dust, I'll rise - Maya Angelou

Yes, I know these comments drip like venom from the lips of the ignorant, but it really stuck in my craw and got me to thinking; the young have never really been taught the meaning of this annual celebration.

It is done to ensure that Afro-American accomplishments and contributions in the settlement and growth of this nation are not forgotten or hidden as in the past. We proudly show that our ancestors were not mere slaves, work horses for the massa, human chattel, but flesh and blood human beings capable of thought and reason, even in the most trying times, contrary to popular belief.

As a child, growing up in the 50s, my mirror of American History was George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, that's it. Orientals and Blacks help lay the rail in this country and the poor American Indians, our nation's first people, were butchered and pushed aside in the name of progress.

The African was brought into this foreign land as a hostage, stripped of humanity, dignity, family, name, heritage and degraded. Forbidden to speak our own language, practice our traditions, or obtain an education, which was punishable by death. So now, in modern day America, we seek to celebrate the only life we know which is in this nation. We are a strong people, and will not be swept aside as if invisible.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise, I rise, I rise
- Maya Angelou

Until the Lions Have Their Historians, Tales of the Hunt Shall Always Glorify the Hunter - African Proverb

Webster's Dictionary defines history - 1. knowledge, study , or record of past events. 2. pattern of events determining the future.

Historic events of the past have been either verbal or written accounts of events that changed the course of history for the good and bad. In the past the authors of these events had the extraordinary opportunity to embellish or omit data at will. This was done in an effort to fulfill certain agendas be they political or personal.

In 1912 the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) was formed. Black history month was started in 1915, in Chicago. Black scholars of the time compiled and researched data on the contributions of Afro-Americans to the United States. One of these researchers, Carter G. Woodson, hoped that the publication of this historical data would bridge the gap between the races. Thinking that the information would dispel the lies and stereotypes if more was known about the achievements of persons of African decent.

This work became a life long quest for Woodson. In February of 1926 he sent out press releases regarding Negro History Week. It is commonly thought that February was chosen because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both prominent fighters in the freedom of slaves.

The 60s brought on a new and enthusiastic interest in Negro History Week and before the end of the decade February became Black History Month. Which begs me to question; this historic information had been around well before the 50s, and yet was unavailable for young Blacks. What a difference it would have made, in so many, helping to elevate our self esteem. This is the costly impact of omission.

The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery - Frederick Douglass


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    • Askme profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome! I am a fan of history--everyone's history. When I returned to school 15 years ago to complete my education, I was offered several history classes as options. I took the Black history one, not because I have any lofty ideals it was the only class without a wait list. My educational adviser suggested it. "sure, I said, I will give it a try". Not expecting anything spectacular. Surprise, surprise....I learned a lot and loved it. Got an A!

    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N.E. Wright 

      7 years ago from Bronx, NY

      Pmccray, this is great. I loved it.

      You made me smile as I was reading.

      I read this article out loud around my son. He came closer just to see what I was reading. That was my hope. LOL.

      I am so happy to have read this, because I hated the omissions about our achievements.

      The least I could do for you is read your work. Lord knows you read most if not all of mine. LOL.

      I will be reading more of your work.

      I am sharing this on Face Book, and with my other Hubbers.

      Take Care,


    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Beautifully written and I love the quotes you have selected. Really wonderful and rated with big thumbs up. Best to you, Steph

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, well I think it is a great idea, if black people are not included or noticed in history in America, or as much as they should be, this month is a good time to balance it. great hub, rated up, cheers nell

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I can't say how much this hub means to me, it proves that we need history and celebrations of hisotry to keep teh people and their "talents" alive for long. We humans forget. Awesome, beautiful and timely.

    • BkCreative profile image


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Why do we need it? Because when I was in school the curriculum we were taught claimed that civilization began in Greece - Africa - while it was being looted to the tune of Googol amounts (that we cannot even total) was quickly dismissed as the dark continent, and never the cradle of civilization - without the blood of Africans Britain would not exist (they have admitted this in their transatlantic slave museum which was opened/recognized in Liverpool, England on its opening day by Maya Angelou) - nor would its dysfunctional stepchild - America, exist.

      George Washington we were taught could not tell a lie - but why mention that he could engage in the worst kind of slavery - chattel slavery - and own more than 400 human beings (his wife owned as many which is seldom mentioned - and his children's enslaved are not counted). Why bother to mention that before George there were 8 other Presidents - the first named Hanson whose father was a Brit and his mother was African - better to write that out of the history books. And we were slaves which is not accurate - we were enslaved as chattel - in other words, not human, equal to a cow or inanimate object.

      This country, after being taken away from people who have been here for at least 20,000 known years, was then built by the enslaved. So valuable was the labor of the enslaved - that wars were fought and Lincoln murdered by who else but a slaveholder.

      If we did not have this one lone month (I am an educator) we, that means all educators, would not be forced to look at history and not his-story. There would be no mention of even one African-American in the curriculum. We still have a loooooooong way to go. The denial of who has reaped the benefits of this bloody history would continue.

      Rated up!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      God bless you dear pmccray! Yes ma'am! We need a blck history month. We could use true history anytime and every time. I love history about America that is not favorable as well as the history that is favorable. We should "stick to a story", a true story.

      I saw a shirt yesterday depicting black heroes. I spread it out so that I could see it.

      The shirt had Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and many others who "led the way for other blacks".

      Marshall "Major Taylor" is never on those shirts or mentioned as a "first" for blacks. Many blacks don't know about Major Taylor. I turned to the beautiful black lady behind me and I told her that Major Taylor was "always" left out.

      Around 1900, Major Taylor was the fastest man a live. Major Taylor was the fastest man on a bicycle. Major Taylor would cross the oceans to race anyone and everyone. Major Taylor was the highest paid athlete in the world at one time. He was a decent God fearing man who disliked racing on the Sabbath. Major Taylor was synonymous with fair-play.

      So- yes, there sure needs to be a black history month to open up more areas of history where blacks and others have contributed. God bless you pmccray!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I agree, it is an important month to celebrate.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Anyone who has ancestors, pmccray, should know how important it is to remember one's roots. Those who question the need for Black History Month should re-examine their connection to their own ancestors. While none of us can take credit for what our ancestors did, we most certainly feel proud of their accomplishments -- when we know about them. Each of us has a right to know and be proud of our heritage. The history books have failed miserably in recording the many accomplishments of black America, and the establishment of a Black History Month is needed to help all of us learn about and extol the virtues of those accomplishment. Thumbs up.


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