The term “Black History Month” can conjure a number of thoughts, feelings, and meanings for different people based on individual experiences.
In a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, Morgan Freeman had this to say:
“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” He asked Mike Wallace. “What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month?”
“I don’t want a Black History Month,” Freeman continued. “Black history is American history.”
For many black people, it’s a time when you feel seen and proud as people around you learn and admire the contributions of Black Americans to every facet of life in this country, while simultaneously feeling marginalized as history books and media water down your history into digestible morsels.
For many years “whitewashed” examples of Black History have even been used to condemn the present black experience as pundits haphazardly toss out MLK quotes to show what black people should be to contradict who we are.
Black History Month is and has always been divisive, but now more than ever it serves a purpose. It’s a reminder for us all to continue learning, to move forward, and to act to advance equity, making room for the next generation of black entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, leaders, creators, and all black people to be people first by loosening the constraints of systems of oppression.
What Is Black History Month?
The story of Black History Month starts with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian and alumnus of the University of Chicago who received his doctorate from Harvard. Dr. Woodson believed that the contributions of Black Americans post-slavery should be studied, promoted, and celebrated.
Along with the formation of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), Dr. Woodson established Negro History Week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, which gained in popularity throughout his life.
By 1976, Negro History Week had undergone a number of transformations with the help and influence of many different groups of black intellectuals and supporters to the month-long celebration of black contributions, history, and the community’s connection to Africa.
Black History month has been officially recognized by every President since the mid-70s.
What is Black History Month to Hawke Media?
To Hawke Media, Black History Month is a time where we can offer our platform to black voices, promote black-owned businesses, and continue to learn how we can support the black community.
From our team to the wider community, we recognize the history, the contributions, the value, and continued struggle of black people in America and will always work toward a country that treats every person equitably.