Since 1976, every U.S president has designated the month of February as Black History Month to recognize the role of African Americans in U.S history. However, Black History Month recently has been subjected to many criticisms by African Americans and other racial groups.
The argument stands that “Black History” shouldn’t be celebrated for just a month, but yearly. There are others who also make the argument that it is unfair to celebrate Black History Month when other races aren’t celebrated at all. However, celebrating those who have made strides in our country nonetheless should have a time to be admired.
The importance of Black History Month helps in showing how far the privileges of the African American communities have progressed. The rights African American have today would have not been possible if the people before us did not preserve and fight for the cause of equality. It is a month to truly celebrate and highlight African American culture. It seems most of the time, African American communities are highlighted in the media alongside poverty, incarceration, and high school dropout rates, which subjects them to unfair and mostly untrue stereotypes.
This month we can dedicate to highlighting individual successes and show the best accomplishments and strides made within the African American community. Some even make the argument that in the 21st century Black History Month needs to be celebrated more now than ever before. It comes as no surprise to hear of racial inequalities in America but in this era it seems to be alarming and continuously gaining media coverage such as the popular “Black Lives Matter” movement. Deaths of Bland, Gray, Scott, and others have spread awareness about racism and police brutality, and yet there is still more that needs to be done. In 2015 alone, 102 unarmed black people were killed by the police.
America is a diverse country and unfortunately the question of why we continue to celebrate Black History Month arises. Here are some of the reasons why. In one month out of 12, we recognize and honor the past in celebrating the rich traditions of African American culture. It is a time when African Americans celebrate past accomplishments, hone in on the positivity, correct the misunderstanding and misconceptions of African Americans, and acknowledge the celebratory elements of Africanism pride. This sparks interactions and discussions on how, as a country, we can progress from where we are.
It is a month of looking at the past, present, and future, and of celebrating the accomplishments of those who came before us and those who are sparking change for the future.