Hodge: Black history is necessary, but, shouldn’t be time constrained

Jayla Hodge

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

This month, Colorado State University, along with many other campuses and institutions, are celebrating Black History month.

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Black history month was founded by Carter G. Woodson, and was only intended to be a week long celebration.  Since it’s founding the now special annual event has gone through several transitions to become the Black History month we have and celebrate today. 

Black history month is celebrated through the month of February all across America and is defined as,  “a time of special awareness of African Americans’ contributions to the nation throughout its history and the contributions of Africans to world history. Public schools focus on important events and individuals related to African American history and pop media such as television engage in a month of programming to highlight Black history.”

While as a collective we must appreciate the purpose of Black History month, it has also become limiting in the ways black history is taught in our education system and  the amount of events catering to celebrating Black and African American culture. We must keep integrating the history and stories of Blacks and African Americans into the collective history of America itself. 

“[Black History Month] is a time of special awareness of African Americans’ contributions to the nation throughout its history and the contributions of Africans to world history. Public schools focus on important events and individuals related to African American history and pop media such as television engage in a month of programming to highlight black history.” -History.Net definition of Black History Month

According to an official ASALH statement, “Woodson never viewed Black history as a one-week affair. He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year. It was in this sense that Blacks would learn of their past on a daily basis that he looked forward to the time when an annual celebration would no longer be necessary.”

Black history in America is too important and expansive to be celebrated in such a limited time frame. 

Such cramming of Black history month has lead to “hero worship” of just a small handful of prominent figures in Black history like Martin Luther King Jr. and  Harriet Tubman. Very rarely are less prominent, but equally important, figures like Lewis Howard Latimer or Ida B. Wells brought into focus.

This is a time where Black History month is, sadly, still very necessary. Our education system is still not integrated enough and does not teach very in-depth on the subject of Black history. Black History is as old as the history of America itself. According to one of CSU’s keynote speakers this month, Leica Brooks with the Southern Poverty Law Center, there has been a “mis-education” of K-12th graders in this country on slavery and civil rights movements that has contributed on one of the organizations main focuses being around “teaching tolerance.”  

Black History month presents the opportunity for some people to only feel obligated to talk about and focus on the achievements of Black and African Americans for the 28 days in February.  CSU’s Black History month’s Keynote speaker Angela Davis, said that “Black history should be celebrated every month of the year. It is U.S history because the essence of Black history is the struggle for freedom.” 

Black history month helps African American and Black Americans feel connected and proud of their past, and offers a chance for other identities and cultures to learn, engage, and celebrate the widespread accomplishments of this community, but it is still restricting in nature. It is important that those in majority identities make the effort to educate themselves to Black history outside the month of February.   

The CSU community and other communities of high education across the country must work to recognize the accomplishments and history of Blacks everyday and help it become recognized as the history of America; not a history only pertaining to Black and African American individuals. 

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Jayla Hodge can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @Jaylahodge.