Black History Month | Maxine Mah
As February rolls around, it’s easy to get distracted by the copious amounts of chocolate, roses, and teddy bears, which unfortunately drown out one of the most important month-long celebrations that happen every year. Black History Month — which takes place during all of February — was officially recognized in 1976 as a way to commemorate and honor the achievements and struggles of Black Americans.
Every year since then, communities of American people work to support, uplift, and allow Black citizens and their voices to shine. This year, the theme for Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness,” which explores “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing throughout the African Diaspora.” This means special attention will be brought to Black healthcare workers, Black-owned clinics, and Black American initiatives for medical schools and hospitals. Especially during the pandemic, those in the medical field are more appreciated than ever. With underprivileged minority communities arguably being hit the hardest by COVID-19 and the struggles Black Americans must face to even reach the slightest amount of respect in their profession, the representation and homage to these healthcare professionals is extremely necessary and long overdue.
Aside from this year’s theme, Black History Month has existed far longer than just under 50 years. In fact, in 1926, the talk of just a single week in February dedicated to honoring Black people was in full swing. Why the month of February? Because that month was the month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays -- both of which had made massive waves in the history of Black Americans and American citizens which you can still see today. Carter G. Woodson, a historian in the 1920s, wanted this week to galvanize his fellow African American historians and broaden the nation’s education and awareness. While this week was slowly accepted into American society at the time, it wasn’t until President Ford officially recognized the celebration that Black History Month gained a spot on the calendar.
While Black History Month is a time of celebration, it is also a time of remembrance. The struggles that Black people have and continue to endure should never be forgotten. Instead, they should be taught about, heard about, and shared in order to educate and spread awareness so that history never repeats itself. If you’d like to learn more, click this link which will take you to articles that chronicle the struggles and triumphs of Black Americans, curated by NPR.
For now, some ways you can support the Black community during February and beyond are by supporting Black-owned businesses like Maya’s Cookies, a vegan cookie bakery owned and started by a Black woman, or One Worldbeat Cafe in San Diego which sells Caribbean inspired dishes. For more Black-owned local businesses check out this website. You can also follow CCA’s very own Black Student Union on Instagram (@cca.bsu) and attend their meetings and events!
There is still much work to be done concerning the respect and representation of Black people in America. And while there have been great strides to spark change with injustice and racial inequality, Black History Month reminds us that more can always be done and to never forget the actions of the past.