The History and Reasoning of Black History Month

The History and Reasoning of Black History Month

Ariana Brandon

This article is in honor of the last day of black history month. As many of you know, February is the month of love and happiness, but not just that. It is also the month celebrating the freedom and success of African Americans worldwide. It runs from February 1st to March 1st. Black history month was established in February 1976 by president Gerald ford. Black history month was created in reference to civil rights activists and African American suffrage as a whole. Usually, people have one certain civil rights activist in mind when they hear black history month considering he also had a day of his own in the previous month and was assassinated relating to the civil rights act. This would be Martin Luther King Jr. However, many more supporting activists deserve credit. Everyone knows big names like M.L.K Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B Du Bois, and  Jackie Robinson, I know what you’re thinking “A baseball Player” but yes. But it seems no one knows the others. Bayard Rustin, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, frank smith Jr., Claudette Colvin, and ect. 

But the whole reason these activists are who they are is because of those before them and their suffrage. Slavery lasted over 100 years. It was abolished on December 8 1865 by president Abraham Lincoln. After this African Americans were free but were still treated poorly. They did not have the same rights or advantages as white people. They wouldn’t eat in certain places. Anywhere white people were allowed, they weren’t. Even if they were, the white people had the right to that place and could have the black people removed because they were “uncomfortable”. They used words to disrespect and hurt them. African Americans at this time were not seen as human. Even after they were freed and could live their own lives. They still worked for their superiors sometimes for a low price. They were beaten sometimes for even associating in a “non-innocent” way with white people. A good example of this would be the story of Emmit Till. Emmit Till was a 14-year-old boy in Mississippi. He was killed in 1955 by a group of white men because he flirted with a white woman at the counter of a store. They went as far as to beat him, Cut certain parts of his body off, and throw him into the Mississippi river tied to a cotton gin. Yeah, Brutal. Toward the end of the trial, the woman admitted to lying, but it didn’t matter because the damage was done.

This is just one of the many examples of African Americans being mistreated. This is why the civil rights movement was started. To prove that black people as a whole deserve the same rights white people do. The civil rights movement lasted from 1919-1964 when segregation was outlawed. 

Many wonder what the colors used to represent black history month mean. 

  • Black: represents resilience;
  • Red: meant to symbolize the blood of innocent Black lives shed through history
  • Yellow: optimism, justice, and equality
  • Green: symbolizes Africa’s rich greenery and other natural resources.

Since the civil rights movement, things have changed. Interracial marriage was passed legal, by the 14th and 15th amendments. Although things have changed, There is still so much wrong in the world. There is still a vast amount of racism and prejudice against other minorities. It is a lot better than it used to be but I think we will do better. As humans we are all still learning so we need to help each other learn right from wrong and teach the younger people these things so we can progress as a community.