Why Black History Month Is Important, Especially Now

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the past couple years have been a time of great change and can be argued that the division between our citizens as a nation is at an all-time high. It’s Feb., nationally recognized as Black History Month, and it is going to arguably be the most important Black History Month since the first one 42 years ago.

Every year since its founding in 1976, Feb. has been acknowledged as Black History Month. President Gerald R. Ford, the first president who publicly dedicated February as the historic memorial saw it as a time for people to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Feb. is a time to celebrate African and African American Culture through learning more about it. 

Black History Month, while it has always been important, has gained significant importance to students as well. In Black Student Union, members of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds learn about black cultures, traditions and the effect they have on history. Feb. is obviously important to the group, but with the current political climate, it is of even more importance to them. Shelby Ford, a Senior at Hamilton Southeastern, is one of the many who feels strongly on this subject. It is a widely accepted belief that Black History Month’s purpose is to spread the knowledge of the rich culture and history of the Black community, and students like Ford agree.

“We need to recognize that people have worked very hard to get us to be one unified country,” Ford said. “We need to remember our history. We need to remember Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and other hard-working people that helped bring us all together.”

Although they are the ones who have been talked about the most, Rosa Park and Martin Luther King are not the only important Black historical figures. This is one of the many reasons this month is important because it is a time to remember and learn about the people that textbooks may gloss over. Another senior, Bryana Tuemler, had strong feelings on the subject.

“Black History Month is the celebration of our struggle,” Tuemler said. “It’s a point of time where we learn about what we went through [as a culture].”

Rather than decorate, like one would do with Christmas, the best way to celebrate Black History Month is through making it a priority to open yourself to knowledge. This way, one can honor the memory and the hard work of the people who risked it all for our schools, neighborhoods and restaurants to be unified and equal. Asking questions is encouraged, and being open-minded is a must. While this month is important to education and affecting the Black community as a whole, it is also important to singular identity and pride in one’s background and the progress they have made as a culture. Senior A’Lyrika Bowens holds the month of Feb. close to her heart.

“As an African American in this day and age, Black History Month is looked at as not only a celebration but an example as to what can be achieved,” Bowens said. “It’s about how much further I can go as an African American in today’s society.”

These historical figures and this rich history are truly what this country is built off of, and the strength and unity that this culture has shown through the toughest battles of their lives are both inspiring and humbling. Out of the ashes, these people rose up, persevered, and turned a prison into a place to build a home for themselves. This kind of strength can teach this country a lot about how to conduct ourselves. Whether you are conservative or not, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a very troubling time for our country, considering the large divide we have between us. We, as a country, should take this as a time to learn and grow so we can continue to make this place a home for our future generation. This Feb. is not just about Black History, although that is the focus. It is a time for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, to stand together and teach love and unity to the country and the rest of the world. Tuemler said it perfectly, “We are stronger together now.”