by Howard Lestrud
We, as Americans, are a very multi-ethnic society.
For the past 36 years our nation has been observing Black History Month to recognize achievements by black Americans and to dedicate a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.
The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Two websites in particular, Wikipedia and History.com, do an outstanding job of relating history of the special month.
On the Wikipedia site, we learn that historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 started the special observance.
His goal was to educate the American people about African-American history, focusing on African Americans’ cultural backgrounds and reputable achievements.
Let’s read more on the Wikipedia site about Black History Month:
“When Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week, his purpose was for the history of African Americans to become considered a more significant part of American history as a whole.
“According to historian John Hope Franklin, Woodson ‘continued to express hope that Negro History Week would outlive its usefulness’.
“The purpose of Black History Month is to promote awareness of African American history to the general public.
“It is arguable that despite the opinions of several critics, Black History Month has several advantages, and to an extent, Woodson’s hopes were realized.
“During Black History Month, African American history is taught to thousands of students at the elementary, high school and university levels respectively.
“African American history is an extremely important part of American history, and it is almost impossible to find an American history textbook that does not include passages about black history.”
History.com has a wealth of information on Black history.
The website features 38 videos, 10 speeches, 11 photo galleries and one interactive feature.
The interactive feature includes timelines, videos, audio and photo galleries.
The History.com website focuses on :
People and Groups
• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
• Frederick Douglass
• Harriet Tubman
• Sojourner Truth
• George Washington Carver
• W.E.B. DuBois
• Booker T. Washington
• Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee
• Jim Crow law
• Civil Rights Movement
• Black Women in Art and Literature
• Abolitionist Movement
• Slavery in America
• Emancipation Proclamation
• Plessy v. Ferguson
• Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
• Montgomery Bus Boycott
• Integration of Central High School
• Selma to Montgomery March
• Birmingham Church Bombing
• The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Slavery in America
• Abraham Lincoln
• American Civil War
• Underground Railroad.
By going to all of these linked bullets, you will find a summary of the topic and then find video and photo gallery links to allow you to learn more Black history.
Let’s look at the Civil Rights Movement: “Nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence.
“Jim Crow laws at the local and state levels barred them from classrooms and bathrooms, from theaters and train cars, from juries and legislatures.
“In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that formed the basis for state-sanctioned discrimination, drawing national and international attention to African Americans’ plight.
“In the turbulent decade and a half that followed, civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change and the federal government made legislative headway with initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
“Many leaders from within the African American community and beyond rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman and others.
“They risked—and sometimes lost—their lives in the name of freedom and equality.”
Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.