Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The History of Black History Month

By Sam Piha


February is Black History Month. It celebrates the history and accomplishments of African Americans. It is especially important in the growing awareness of police brutality and systemic racism.

Even though the national recognition of Black History Month began in 1976, few people know about the history of Black History Month. According to a recent article published in Education Week, by  , “Many accept Black History Month as a special time of year, yet few recognize the role African American teachers played in establishing and popularizing this tradition during Jim Crow. Originally founded in 1926 as Negro History Week by the famed educator and groundbreaking historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month is the product of Black teachers’ long-standing intellectual and political struggles." 

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished, lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” – Carter G. Woodson

The article continues, "Woodson was particularly interested in using Negro History Week to infuse students’ learning with critical knowledge about racial domination as well as the long traditions of Black resistance and achievement. Negro History Week quickly became a cultural norm in Black segregated schools. According to surveys conducted by Black educator and journalist Thomas L. Dabney in 1934, it was celebrated in more than 80 percent of those high schools by the mid-1930s.” 

Read the full article here.

These educators insisted on the importance of providing students with cultural armor to repudiate the racial myths reflected in the nation’s laws, social policies, and American curriculum.” – Jarvis R. Givens

BLACK HISTORY IS BEING MADE TODAY
Young people may respond positively to discussion about African American people who are making important contributions to society today. For instance, the scientist who is leading the fight against COVID-19, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. To learn more, click here to view a report on Dr. Corbett by CBS News.

Source: CBS News


Source: Glamour
BLACK HISTORY TREASURES IN OUR BACK YARD
Many of us do not need to travel very far to find Black History treasures in our own backyard. For instance,  is the oldest, living Park Ranger who gives presentations on her early experience as an African American in the Bay Area at Richmond's Rosie the Riveter Museum. A video of Soskin can be viewed here or you can read more about her here.

Below are websites that offer photographs, facts and videos dedicated to Black History Month:
Carter G. Woodson was an American historian, author, journalist, and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora, including African-American history. A founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1916, Woodson has been called the "father of black history". In February 1926 he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week", the precursor of Black History Month.

Jarvis R. Givens is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and the Suzanne Young Murray Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, having earned his Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. As an interdisciplinary historian, Givens' research falls at the intersection of the history of American education, 19th and 20th century African American history, and critical theories of race and schooling. 

Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett is a research fellow and the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center (VRC).  A viral immunologist by training, Dr. Corbett uses her expertise to propel novel vaccine development for pandemic preparedness. In all, she has 15 years of expertise studying dengue virus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus and coronaviruses. Along with her research activities, Dr. Corbett is an active member of the NIH Fellows Committee and avid advocator of STEM education and vaccine awareness in the community.

Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest National Park Ranger, serving at the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. During World War II, she worked as a file clerk for the African-American local of the International Boilermakers Union in Richmond. She later served as a field representative for California State Assemblywomen Dion Aroner and Loni Hancock. As of 2021, Soskin is still employed as a park ranger with the National Park Service, and conducts park tours and serves as an interpreter, explaining the park's purpose, history, various sites, and museum collections to park visitors.

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