by Matthew Cortes
February is commonly known as Black History Month; the month where the achievements and sacrifices made by African-Americans are recognized and appreciated.
Carter G. Woodson, a historian from Harvard, believed that prejudice could be overcome and that African-Americans were extremely important to the history of the country. He aimed to raise awareness of African-Americans’ contributions to the United States. Woodson and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students group at Kent State University in February of 1969. They were heavily influenced by Woodson and the message that he preached. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State during parts of January and February in 1970. By 1976, 50 years after the first event, Black History Month was being celebrated across the nation.
Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2020 theme is “African Americans and the Vote”. The year 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment as well as the 150-year anniversary of the 15th Amendment. The theme focuses on the historic struggles on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote.
Because of this celebration, a newfound understanding on black culture was acquired by people of all races. One reason that the month came to be was the simple realization that history textbooks largely ignored any impact African-Americans made to history, which was an unacceptable fact. Black history month was created so that people can appreciate that racism is unacceptable in today’s society and African-Americans are just as important as people of any other race.
President Gerald Ford gave an inspiring statement about celebrating Black History Month when he said, “We can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) is doing its best to celebrate Black History Month to assist students in learning about African-American cultures. There have been, and still will be, some events on campus during the month of February where all can come and enjoy the experience.
On February 20 in the Grossman Commons, there was a black history luncheon which incorporated delicacies inspired by African-American culture. Also set up in the commons all month is the celebration of “I Have a Dream”, Martin Luther King Jr.’s historically impactful speech.
On February 27, the school will sponsor a trip to the Zion Union Heritage Museum in Hyannis. This museum is dedicated specifically to African-American and Cape Verdean-American history. This historic location holds many contributions from local Cape Cod residents which would be lost if not for the museum. For more information on this contact the Student Engagement Office at 774-330-4320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.