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Gimnazija Velika Gorica


Autor: Kristina Lučić, 4. 3. 2018.

"Black History Month"

an article by our guest student Nina King

Black History Month, also known as “African American History Month” in the United States, and

“Black Achievement Month” in the Netherlands, is an entire month dedicated to the culture and

history of black people and their accomplishments. The United States and Canada celebrate

during February, while the United Kingdom and the Netherlands celebrate in October. Before

Black History Month, there was “Negro History Week,” established in 1926 by historian Carter

G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The second week of

February was chosen in the US because because both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick

Douglass have birthdays during that week. Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th president of the

United States, and is most well-known for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as a military

strategy against the Confederacy. The proclamation itself did not free slaves as it claimed it

would, but it was an important turning point in the Civil War, which was eventually won by the

Northern States. Shortly after, the thirteenth amendment was passed by Congress, which stated

that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall exist within the United States.” Frederick

Douglass was an escaped slave who became a nation-wide leader of the abolitionist movement,

and was known for his anti-slavery writings. The initial idea for Negro History Week was to

encourage the teaching of Black History in public schools. Carter G. Woodson himself stated

that reaching Black History was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the

race within broader society, meaning that if a race has no history, it stands in danger of being

exterminated. By 1929, the officials with the State Departments of Education for the states with

large black populations had made the event known so that teachers were distributing literature

associated with the event, as were churches. The idea grew in popularity for a few decades

before being proposed as Black History Month by black educators and students at Kent State

University in February of 1969. By 1976, Black History Month was recognized by President

Gerald Ford, who urged Americans to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected

accomplishments of black Americans. Today there is controversy over the practicality and

fairness of dedicating an entire month to learning about one race. Some argue that the

celebration shouldn't be restricted to one month, and others claim that it is racist to focus on one

race instead of all of them. Black History Month is celebrated in the United States by reading

works of literature by black authors and figures such as Langston Hughes, and Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr, as well as listening to Blues and Hip Hop music. It is also common for students during

this time to learn about Jim Crow laws and other historical events, like the Civil Rights


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