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The history of Black History Month

Black history month, February, was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1926.  

Woodson traveled to Chicago to celebrate the emancipation of slavery’s 50 anniversary to share his idea about the month, according the website for the association for the study of African American life and history. 

Also, Woodson founded The Journal of Negro History, the mecca of all things Black at the time.  He wanted African Americans to find solace in knowing that African American history was greater than slavery by sharing his research.   

Woodson chose February for Black History Month because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) who freed the slaves and Frederick Douglass (February 14) a former slave turned pioneer and activist for the African American community. 

 “I believe this month, similar to other months that celebrate historically marginalized peoples, is important,” Assistant History Professor Holly Pinheiro said. “If nothing else, to raise awareness that highlights agency and empowerment to the various groups.” 

Some African Americans today, question if February is the best month for the Black celebration. Offering that the celebration takes place in the shortest month of the year. 

Pinheiro said, “Black history is American history, and it should not only be celebrated but acknowledged year-round. Having said that, a month dedicated to Black history is important and worthy (regardless of the month’s length) given how many public and private schools ignored it for generations.” 

“Despite real changes in the teaching of American history since the 1970s, Whiteness is still central,” History Associate Professor John Hayes said. “The concerns and actions of White people–Puritans, Presidents, generals, ‘Founding Fathers’–continue to occupy center stage. Until non-White Americans are key figures in our historical narrative, we need Black History month.” 

“My ideal vision is the United States updating their educational system to teach and  celebrate Black history month, and to actively celebrate and commemorate those Black individuals who helped pave the way.” Student Union President Sydney Strong said. “In a perfect world, I feel like there would be holidays spread throughout the entire year that celebrate blackness, the pioneers, and legends that came before us.”  

A few upcoming events at Augusta University in honor of Black History Month are, A conversation with writers, Kiese Laymon and Jesmyn Ward (February 17, 2021), and Courage Conversations with a member of the exonerated five, Raymond Santana (February 18, 2021.) For more events, visit augusta.edu.com.