February is Black History Month. During this month, the United States honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs, and adversities that are an important part of our nation’s history.
In 1926, the idea for the month was created by leading Black historian, Dr. Carter Woodson. Dr. Woodson chose February because it is the month that coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation movement and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery.
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month during the country’s 1976 bicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence. Ford called upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
More recently, President Barack Obama aptly described the role of this commemorative month. He stated the following: “Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes. It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.”
From scientists, artists, and activists, to political leaders and athletes, Black Americans have made countless impactful contributions to our nation. By acknowledging and celebrating these achievements, we recognize exemplars of strength and resilience. And by doing so gain a deeper understanding of our shared history.
Black History Month also serves as a reminder that racism and inequality are still ugly facets of American life. As such, the month also serves as a reminder to commit to working toward justice and creating a more just and equitable society for all.
In North Colonie, we are proud to celebrate, remember, affirm and acknowledge this important history, and we will celebrate this important month through classroom lessons and school activities.
D. Joseph Corr