By Devon Martinez, Staff Writer
Students at PPCC believe that Black History Month is an important reminder of how far society has moved forward in terms of equal rights, and the forgotten Black Americans who have made this country great.
Almost no students interviewed, however, knew the answer to the question “Who started Black History Month?”
In 1915 Carter G. Woodson, an African-American scholar, historian, educator, and publisher, along with minister Jesse E. Morland, founded The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).
The organization sponsored “National Negro Week” which was the origin of Black History Month. During this week black communities and schools celebrated history and established history clubs. Today, there are national events during the month of February to honor the lives and contributions of Black Americans.
When asked why Black History Month is celebrated in February, PPCC student Orlando Westbrook said, “Many black people say it’s because its the shortest month, and they want to give us the least amount they could, which is a joke.”
PPCC student, Joe Barton, claimed he had always heard the same urban legend.
The truth, though, is that February was chosen to honor prominent Americans who helped advance the lives of Black people in this country. February is the month when Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were born.
Black History Month was officially recognized in 1976 when President Gerald Ford declared it was time for the public to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The majority of students interviewed including Barton and Westbrook knew the answer to this question, What major Civil Rights Organization was founded in February? Answer: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was created on February 12th, 1909.
The NAACP’s anti-lynching agenda and the major legal battles won during the civil rights era is what led to this group being the oldest and largest civil rights organization, boasting half a million members and over 2,200 branches worldwide.
In answer to the question, “What does Black History Month mean to you?” student answers varied:
Westbrook believes, “It’s just a month that we can celebrate the strong black people throughout time that fought for us to be on the same footing as the rest of the people who live in this country.”
Student Delaney Evans sees this as the one month where we can appreciate black Americans throughout history, because according to her, “I think everyone should get the time to be appreciated.”
Student Vivien Jerez agreed with Evans, saying, “I think it’s another way to appreciate the black people who did great things in this country.”
Barton believes that this month is more than just about Black History in America. He said, “Our culture goes worldwide and our influence is felt by everyone.”