Sunday, February 8, 2015

BLACK HISTORY MONTH


 

In the United States and Canada February is
Black History Month or African-American History Month, in the UK the special month of remembrance for the African diaspora is in the month of October.

Diaspora refers to scattered populations with a common origin in a smaller geographic area. In the case of the ancestry of black people of African descent, the scattering was of course created forcefully as they were enslaved and shipped to the Americas. The largest populations were in Brazil and second to the United States.

The remembrance and acknowledgement of people of African descent has changed through the years. The first acknowledgement was in 1926 in the United States, led by a historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the study of Negro Life and History.

The second week in February was chosen, to honor the movement as much as to coincide with two key players in abolishing slavery in the United States. Abraham Lincoln; American President credited with abolishing slavery and Frederick Douglass an African-American social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman. Who escaped from slavery, and became a leader of the abolitionist movement. Both men were born in the second week of February.

The event originated with education in mind, and at first was not received with thunderous support. It eventually gained more support from the Department of Education. The Historian Carter G. Woodson argued for support with the following statement.

"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization."

By 1929 most states complied by adding it to their educational curriculum. The growth to a full month celebration was not a cut and dry process but by 1976 under President Gerald Ford it blossomed into a month long event. President Ford a Republican felt that Americans as a whole needed to

"Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

There are people who oppose that a single race is given a month and amongst them Morgan Freeman, is a strong critic of Black History Month,

 "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

The actor also feels that there is no such thing as a white history month because this would limit rather than expand exposure to white American historical figures.

The UK added their Black History Month events in 1987 and Canada in 1995.

Do you think designating a month to a specific race increases acceptance and integration? Or does it create a greater barrier and separate?