Features

Behind Black History Month

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Black History Month has been celebrated every February since 1970. (Getty Images)

By HEIDI JIN
Staff Writer

UHS students commemorate African American contributions to American society and celebrate African American history in Black History Month. 

Since the beginning of February, students have put up pictures, quotes, and biographies of African American leaders on the walls of the library in celebration of Black History Month. 

“I think that the pictures of influential African American leaders in the library are a good reminder of their legacies”, said junior Michelle Schuler, “and they really help people that might not know who they are to be aware of the history and culture that these people contributed.”

From Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad to Martin Luther King Jr. of the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans reformed the country into a true democratic republic by demonstrating principles of freedom and equality. The Harlem Renaissance that gave birth to the “flowering of Negro literature” and the ragtime and jazz that attracted Americans of all ethnicities shaped the unique American culture.

“The hardships that their [African Americans’] ancestors endured prompted the industrialization and ultimately the economic dominance of the US over the world today,” said junior Xuelin Huang. “They [the African Americans] are part of us, every one of them contributed to the progression of our society as a whole.”

Black History Month is an official annual observance that takes place in February. It was established to recognize the indispensable role of African Americans in the development of American culture. 

The precursor of Black History Month was initiated by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1926 to encourage coordinate education on African American history in public schools. The second week of February was decided to be the “Negro History Week”, which coincides with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. 

Starting from 1970, Black History Month was celebrated by educational institutions across the country, and was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford during the United States Bicentennial.

“Black History Month raises awareness not only through words, but also by the original pieces such as tapestry and murals that can help us understand the significance of the legacy,” said junior Momoe Ando. “Many people around the world use Google, and the Google Doodle designs for Black History Month is recognized every year on February 1st.”

UHS students are required to study African American history as part of their U.S. history class. However, many are still unaware of the contributions of African Americans to the development of American culture and society. Holding school activities and events can inform more students about African American history and allow them to explore more that are not covered in their U.S. history class.

“Urging the school to actually host events that celebrate Black History Month would be very beneficial towards educating the students at Uni, especially since a lot of them don’t go into the library enough to notice the posters and read them,” said Schuler. “If the school organizes some sort of honorary event, it will really help promote the history and culture behind Black History Month.”

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