Do you know why is black history month celebrated in February?
Black history month, also known as the African American history month, initially originated in America. When you hear the word black or black history, something that instantly strikes your mind must be the names of great rulers and charismatic personalities who fought for the welfare of the black people and glorified the negro history.
Now, these representatives of the black community have their names written in gold in American history. These heroic people are Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and so on.
History of the condition of black people in America:-
America, in the past, has been very racist against the African American people, they discriminated against them, and the whites considered themselves as the superior race. They looked down upon the black community and its tradition and culture. In ancient America, the blacks were even the victims of slavery, and their white owners treated them inhumanely and negatively.
There was rigid racial segregation between the communities. The blacks had to live far from the whites, and no touch was allowed between them. Schools were different for both communities. The whites thought superior to their culture. The black people were not allowed in the settlements of the whites except when they worked for them.
The white people had various ways to keep the blacks in check; for example, the Jim Crow laws restricted the activities of black people. Marriage or sexual relationships between the two communities was strictly prohibited. The black people did not have any social, political, economical, or cultural rights, and they were not allowed to vote in State elections for some years.
Violence was used to care for and kill Afro-American people who violated the so-called laws. According to historian Carter G. Woodson, the American curriculum is framed so that it ignores the significance and contributions of the culturally diverse black people. Even in the health sector, there was various racial discrimination faced by the black people, and they did not have proper access to health services.
The white people lived luxurious life and had better housing facilities when compared to the black people. The white people usually had white-collar jobs, whereas the black people worked in coal mines and were the sufferers of slavery; the income gap between the two communities was glaring.
This type of irrational discrimination was very depressing, and thus, a few influential and educated black people started a movement to bring racial equality.
Civil Rights Movement:-
In the US, the Civil Rights Movement was a political campaign that started in 1954 and stretched till 1968. The movement’s main aims were to end racial discrimination and segregation and advocate for the political rights of black people. Although the American Civil war had achieved various rights for the blacks, there was still a long way to go.
The American anti-slavery society under the leadership of William Lloyd Garrison played an important role during this movement. Further, the abolition movement was joined by Frederick Douglass.
Pursuing the rights was not very easy as the black had to African Americans many setbacks by the authorities. While studying the American Civil War, the contributions of Abraham Lincoln cannot be ignored.
Contributions of various personalities:-
Rosa Parks is also the ‘mother of the Civil rights movement.’ She was a staunch leader, and she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama . she was arrested in December 1955, and this incident led to the launch of the Montgomery bus boycott.
Approximately 17000 African American citizens boycotted the buses; during her bus boycott, she was the local NAACP’s secretary, and she was the founder of the Montgomery NAACP Youth Council.
Due to her activism, she received various death threats, but she didn’t step back, and later in 1999, she received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honour.
He was the 16th President of the United States, and due to his efforts, slavery ended in the US. . His Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed approximately 20000 enslaved people in the confederate-held territory.
The 13th Amendment Act, which made slavery unconstitutional, was passed due to his efforts.
Fredrik Douglass was an African American social reformer and writer, and he was one of the most influential figures in the Civil War. He wrote three autobiographies which are a descriptive narrative of his life as an enslaved person; during the movement, he campaigned for the freedom of the enslaved people.
He was an agent of the American anti-slavery society, and he was a firm supporter of the 14th amendment, which granted citizenship to African Americans. He was a strong supporter of Social Justice, and throughout his life, he worked for the improvement of African American community. He is again a very popular person in the Negro history.
Martin Luther King Jr.:-
Martin Luther King Jr was again a social activist who led the Civil rights Movement in the United States. He was very active during the Montgomery bus boycott. Later, he organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His worldwide known speech, “I have a dream had,” had a unionizing effect on the African American life and history, leading to their victory.
History of the Black Month:-
In February, the United States, Canada, and Germany observe black history month. People celebrate Black history month to recognize and honor the contributions of the black communities in the United States history.
The celebration also applauds the achievements of African American people. Some other countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Ireland also celebrate Black history month in October.
In 1926 US, historian Carter G. Woodson, father of black history and the Association for the Study of Negro life and history, decided that the second week of February would be celebrated as the “Negro history week” because in that weeklies the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and that of Frederick Douglass, both have been staunch civil rights pioneers.
This celebration in the country also symbolizes the spread of awareness of black history and its culturally diverse values. This idea of black history and negro history week grew slowly and gradually, and the week-long celebration now changed into the Black history month.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford gave official recognition to the black history month. In Canada, February as black history month is celebrated to recognize the contributions of Black Canadians in making Canada a culturally diverse and developed country.
February as black history month is celebrated every year with the help of various creative activities. Every year there is a different theme for this. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), “the 2022 theme considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well”.
ASALH expanded that “This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing throughout the African Diaspora.”
The current situation of racism in America:-
Talking about the current situation, the recent trend of the Black Lives Matter strikes our minds instantly. Black lives matter originally started in 2013 due to the death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager. The death of various black people, including George Floyd, has led to a new wave of protests against racial segregation in America.
The Black lives matter campaigns against violence and racism toward the black people. This is a very fast-growing campaign or movement. In the contemporary world of social media and dynamically vast prospects of globalization, it is very difficult to get away with any crime of racial nature.
People worldwide are ready to take a strong stand against such discrimination. Influential people like actors and actresses, politicians, rich business people, and many others support this black lives matter movement. Thus this campaign was widely spread all over the globe with the help of social media and liberal media.
The George Floyd Story:-
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black man, was murdered in the U.S. city of Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer. Floyd was arrested and alleged of used a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck and brutally killed them despite his various pleas. This incident shook the foundations of the entire society and damaged the intricate social fabric of the culturally and ethnically diverse American society.
It can be concluded that racism must end now, and it is high time now; we all need to stand up and raise our voices against racist behavior. Especially the privileged white class needs to check its privilege and help the black people end racism and have a life devoid of segregation.
It becomes difficult to find rationality in racist practices in the modern world. We can’t survive without each other’s support, so it is necessary to socialize people in an anti-racist manner from a very early stage.