Black History Month

It's February and that means it's Black History Month! This event, celebrated annually in the U.S. and the U.K., was founded in 1926 by an African-American historian Carter G. Woodson.

It was originally Negro History Week and intended to honor Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and several historical February events that impacted the lives of African-Americans; most notably, the addition of the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave blacks the right to vote.

Confession No. 1: The only reason I know all that is because of the magic of Google!

Confession No. 2: I haven't celebrated Black History Month (BHM) in over 10 years and I actually don't plan on doing so this year.

According to a February 2007 survey conducted by Zogby International, a major polling firm, there's no real consensus on the topic among Americans. Ten thousand people were polled and produced the following results:

  • 43 percent said that that setting aside one month of the year to focus on a racially-defined observance was a token gesture.
  • 39 percent said they viewed it as a good opportunity to raise awareness.
  • 18 percent were not sure.

I'm in that middle percentile. Even though I don't observe BHM, I definitely feel that it's a good opportunity to raise awareness of the contributions that countless African-Americans have made to our country. I have studied black American history and read many of the great black American writers and poets. Growing up, my parents were always talking about the "great things black folks did" and anytime I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my dad would say, "You do know that George Washington Carver discovered over 300 uses for peanuts?" It seemed like every day was BHM at my house!

Now there are those who think BHM is about expecting white people to apologize for slavery. Some even question the relevance of a month-long celebration, stating that "black people simply need to get over (slavery) and move o…