Everyone in the U.S. knows February is Black History Month, but few seem to know the history behind it.
A TikToker, named Kirby, educated her followers on how the important month got started and why. Celebrating Black History Month is more important than ever — the country is facing widespread attacks on basic history, books about BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ history are being banned and new policies that prohibit educators from teaching about race, anti-semitism and other prejudices are being implemented.
“Have you ever wondered why Black History Month was in February?” Kirby asked. “Have you ever thought America was being petty and gave us the shortest month of the year?”
While it wouldn’t be surprising if that were the reason, the real history is much more interesting. Black History Month actually first began as Black History Week, as Kirby explained. The week was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Woodson was a historian, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Woodson chose the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) which were each celebrated by Black communities since the late 1800s. The scholar felt that Black Americans needed to preserve their culture, history and traditions or else face erasure.
Black History Week provided a counter-narrative to the popular racist rhetoric that was accepted during the Jim Crow era in the U.S and is still prevalent today. The week grew in popularity over the decades until Black educators at Kent State University proposed Black History Month in 1969. By 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in honor of the national bicentennial.
People shared their experiences with Black History Month in the comments.
“My school turned it into ‘kindness month,'” a user lamented.
“Anyone at school not learning much about Black History month? Just me?” another said.
“Thank you for teaching me what school didn’t in the realest way,” someone wrote.
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