Editorial – Black History Month origins put into action
By Staff Sgt. Terrell Summers, Personnel NCOIC, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, TexasFebruary 1, 2021
Most dreams are often just dreams until you put them into action.Who would had ever known that someday, we would be celebrating Negro History and Literature; what started out as a week event, to a month event?When you have worked as a sharecropper, miner or various other jobs to support your family, it instills diligence and an undeniable willingness to want a better quality and standard of living for all.I could just imagine what it was like for Carter G. Woodson, growing up in a time when equality was only given to the privileged. Living in an era where inspiration and motivation wasn’t as simple as a google search for, “quote of the day.”Carter G. Woodson — a man of ambition. Entering high school late, he graduated in less than two years, which is a true display of how determination and enthusiasm brought his dreams to fruition.Furthering his education, Woodson obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He also attended Harvard, being the second African American to earn a doctorate from the institution.As the times began to change, Woodson and his colleagues wanted more. Spreading the word of theirs and their forefathers’ accomplishments in the early 20th century would take a collaborative effort.His fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, created Negro History and Literature Week during 1924. However, Woodson wanted a broader audience and wider celebration, so the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History — which he helped found — was given the task.Woodson announced the week-long celebration in February 1926. According to reports, February was chosen because of the birthdays of two prominent men of historic achievements; one being Fredrick Douglas and the other Abraham Lincoln.Schools and organizations began to adopt Woodson’s proposal. The scarcity of materials and the means to support the week-long event became a daunting task.A dreamer along with his alliances, Woodson used the Associated Publishers Press — which he founded in 1921 — to get the needed materials out while creating more along the way.During the 1940s, Woodson grew hungry for a longer duration of celebration. Some locations elongating the celebration, but unfortunately, Woodson died of a heart attack in 1950.Along with the Black Power movement and the 1960’s rise of civil rights, Woodson’s successors had no choice but to continue carrying the torch.For 50 years, Negro History Week was celebrated, but during 1976, these young African Americans pushed organizations to transition to a celebration of Black History Month for the first time.Since then, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation honoring Black History Month.