BHM events educate students on African American Culture - The Herald: #Life

BHM events educate students on African American Culture

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Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:23 pm

Black History Month is upon us, and while there are several activities at A-State both to help inform and celebrate Black History Month, there are some facts about Black History Month that students may not know.

These pieces of history can shed light on the importance of Black History Month and how it has expanded from its humble beginnings to a month filled with activities and events to commemorate African-American achievement.

When asked if she knew the origins of Black History Month, exercise science major Trakandra Sharp of Nashville, AR, said, “I actually don’t know when it became a month.”

She is not alone. Many students participate in the celebrations of Black History Month and understand its importance, but they may not know about how it came to be.

Initially, Black History Month began as a week devoted to celebrating African-American contributions to society. According to The History Channel’s website, African-American scholar Carter G. Woodson created an African-American celebration week in 1926 and is often called the father of Black History Month. The second week of February was chosen because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were both born in February.

It would be 50 years before “Negro History Week” would evolve into a month long celebration.

By the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement ushered in a new desire to celebrate African-American achievement to a greater extent. Before Black History Month was recognized on a national scale by the government in 1976, college campuses across the country were already extending it into a month long celebration.

What started as Woodson’s small step in honoring African-Americans’ contribution to the foundation of America would ultimately turn into a month-long holiday celebrated in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, according to the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies’ website.

Another fact about Black History Month is many of its prominent and influential players are often overlooked. Names like Nat Turner, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson come to mind as the most famous examples of African-American historical figures. While these individuals were crucial in their respective periods, others played vital roles as well.

According to the Slate website, individuals such as the writer Harriet Jacobs and jazz singer Joyce Bryant are prominent figures in black history who are often overlooked during the observation of Black History Month.

There are several African-Americans who have contributed in some way to the fight for equality and the improvement of our nation, but while Black History Month aims to celebrate all of them, some have become more well-known than others.

A-State students are celebrating in their own way by hosting activities and attending university events. “I believe it’s important because we need to learn our history--we need to be celebrated and know where we came from,” Sharp said.

Kyera Collins, a senior health studies major of Memphis, also reflects on the importance of Black History Month. “It’s important because it helps people learn all their history, like what was happening back then and why it was so important that they worked to make the world better for blacks,” she said.

Attending an event this month will help students to learn the facets of black history, including the historical figures, both famous and obscure, that have helped shape our society and change the world.

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