Black History Month

Christian Custard, Staff writer

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Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, where it is known as Black Achievement Month. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February, as well as in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in October.

Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970

Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

Black History Month often sparks an annual debate about the continued usefulness and fairness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one race. Criticisms include questions over whether it is appropriate to confine the celebration of Black history to one month, as opposed to integration of Black history into the mainstream education the rest of the year. Another criticism is that contrary to the original inspiration for Black History Month, which was a desire to redress the manner in which American schools failed to represent Black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects, Black History Month reduces complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of hero worship. Another criticism is that the celebration is racist.

Black celebrities such as actor and director Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized Black History Month, with Freeman saying, “I don’t want a Black history month. Black history is American history.” Freeman has argued that there was no White History Month, because white people did not want their history relegated to just one month.

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