BY INGRID HEIDEMANN
The United States has become the free country it is today thanks to the brave individuals who decide to stand up for what they believe in. Black History Month establishes a greater understanding of the vital roles that African Americans play in U.S. history. Historical figures such as Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, and Mae C. Jemison made it possible for Americans to have the same rights no matter what their skin color is.
African American History Month originated from an event that took place during the second week of February which was called “Negro History Week”. This week was established between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays to encourage public schools to teach their students about the history of African Americans. After awhile, Negro History Week became more and more familiar to the public, and some mayors in the United States even made it a holiday. Black History Month was first celebrated in February 1970 at Kent State and officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. February has been chosen as the designated Black History Month by every American president since then.
A strong supportive group that represents students of all races is the Black Student Union (BSU). Their goal is to maintain a place where students can be themselves as well as spread the importance of equal education and African American history. Club president Senior Jayda Williams said, “Whether you are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc., try to be open to learning more about culture and traditions and whose decisions and actions still have an affect on people of all races today.” If students are interested in learning more about African American history, they are welcome to join BSU where they will be treated with respect and educated on the aspects of Black History.
BSU also plans to host a few Black History Month events to celebrate. Williams explained, “We plan on doing a segment on K-PAW where each day a student talks about a different historical figure.” This means that each day of February a student from BSU will be featured on K-PAW, and they will get to choose a particular historical figure to talk about.
While some might consider Black History Month to be a celebratory event, others believe that the education of African American History should not be reduced to just one month. Actor Morgan Freeman claimed, “I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history." He believes that the men and women who stand up for equal rights for all American citizens should be recognized more often than it is now.
Even though it may only last one month, Black History Month is a monumental celebration that many men and women relish. If it were not for the brave and hopeful citizens who risked their lives to preserve the rights of all people, the world would not be as free as it is today. This annual observance stands as a representation of these people and the hard work they put into earning their freedom.