The Renegade Rip

Opinion: A Time For Cultural Reflection

Jennifer Hubbell

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By Jennifer Hubbell
Opinion Editor

For the past 77 years, February has been dedicated to educating Americans about the history and culture of African-Americans. But how often during the month, or the year even, do you hear anyone mention the man who started the tradition of Black History Month?
For years, African-Americans were viewed by many as “a race of men which has never created any civilization of any kind,” as Professor John Burgess, the founder of Columbia University Graduate School of Political Science once said, according to an article from the June 1995 edition of Ghana Review.
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson began his crusade to inform the public of the history and influence of the African-American race on American society in 1915, when he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. One year later, Woodson established the Journal of Negro History.
Black History Month was actually started as Black History Week in 1926. It wasn’t until 1976 that the week-long celebration was expanded to become a monthlong event.
Woodson ” fervently hoped that soon the history of African-Americans would become an integral part of American History and would be observed throughout the year,” according to historian John Hope Franklin.
February is significant to African-American history because of the births of such influential people as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The promotion of Black History Week began with a circular that Woodson would create and distribute in advance, mainly to educational institutions, that would outline significant events and individuals that he thought should be studied and emphasized.
But the significance of black history extends beyond any single month. For example, without the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr., where would civil rights be in this country? King taught Americans that change could occur and hope, indeed, was alive.
It is important for all of us to know our heritage. Black History Month is a wonderful way for African-Americans to gain recognition for the influence they have had in America and educate others about equality, dignity and respect.

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Opinion: A Time For Cultural Reflection