A Brief History
Black History Month was first announced and launched in the United States of America in the year 1926 under the term "Negro History Week" by the renowned Historian, Carter G.Woodson (who is regarded as the Father of Black History Month) and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was a week born out of the need to establish recognition and emphasise the importance of Black Heritage within broader society. And served as a centre; the historical link between the celebrations of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays in February. It was chiefly geared towards encouraging the coordinated teaching of black culture and values to Black Americans and British in the public schools.
Alternatively, throughout the 1930s, the History Week swept through the South's "lost cause" myth as politically blemished in the movie and book "Gone with the Wind," which presented Slavery as a beneficial scheme, assumed that slaves were better off under slavery., and that the Civil War was a ripple effect of the "northern aggression." It was a century of strategically dismantling pickets that laid bare barriers to the whole story.
While the launch of Negro History Week was met with mixed feelings, it was massively supported by the progressive members of the white community. It was welcomed within the Black Community and triggered an increased amount of interest in the achievements of Blacks within the healthcare sector, astronomy, teaching and catalyzed the creation of Black History Clubs.. It was first proposed as Black History Month in the US in the year 1970 by the black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University, and became an act of social responsibility to celebrate when President Gerald Ford was quoted saying, "Seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout the year." It was first organised and celebrated in London (UK) through the Leadership of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo in October, 1987.
Theme for the Year
This year's Black History Month Theme for the Students’ Union is tied into three frameworks which acts as the channel through which every history, heritage and race have been preserved and revitalised over the years and through generations; “The past, the present and the future.”
We have broken the month into; the past, the present and the future
Significance of Black History Month:
Black history is British history. Black history is American history. We can't talk about one without the other. And often, the true black histories are hidden (omitted) from the nation's memory.
In an era where there are still not enough of these histories within the school curriculum that could afford students to be taught about their different heritages, the heroes of their past and mistakes made, to educate about the past & guide from all forms of repetition, this month is a start of conversations that attempts to fill the holes throughout the year. Above that, it is also a month that provides levelled discussions and genuine conversations around racism, colourism, white privilege, microaggression, unconscious bias and issues within the Black Community (in terms of intersectionality). By emphasising stories of black achievement and resilience, the month focuses on the aspects of black lives that are unfathomable to most.
The month of October is quite relative to every Black student in Cardiff University, Wales, UK, America and all over the world. In the stem of it all, it is an opportunity to reflect, acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Black Lives to the American and British society at large. It plays a huge part, in giving a spotlight to the first Blacks who made breakthroughs in Science, Art, Astronomy and who for some reason or the other, were pushed to the background or their original work re-created and called "better" within certain metrics of the white microscope.
There is no one black story. There is no one black experience. And there is no one black voice. Today captures the beginning of the 365 days that are spread out to put a spotlight on black excellence and triumphs, beyond the struggles of the present and past.
There is no one black story. There is no one black experience. And there is no one black voice.
To the Black Community, Black History Month is a story and a conversation in itself. It represents joy for the days of liberation, the wealth in the richness that is the Black Culture, a mission to educate about prejudice & the unseated bias beneath the phrase "I am not racist but…." It is the immortalisation of names, that the Black Community dedicates annually, to all the black heroes who went down in history before they could go into the Book of History. The rebirth of the ones that couldn't stay buried and the many humans who were the bridges to the life and public services that the Black Community enjoy today. It is how we promote unity in diversity and the understanding that when it comes to getting to the future, there is always room for improvement; in aiming to know what one doesn't know, in questioning what one has always thought to be right, and in learning to take a stand for what is right and just. There is a need to learn about a people other than one's own and the opening of the mind in understanding racial differences.
We are pushing for a better tomorrow
This is how we grow as a people. This is how we learn as a nation. This is how we quit clothing only part of the past, and repeating the mistakes with the present. This is how we begin to create a noble cause around the equality, diversity and inclusion we are pushing for a better tomorrow.
This blog was written by Jane, VP Postgraduate Studies and Laura Adesanya, President of the African Caribbean Society