One of the first things people say when the subject of Black History Month comes is “Why did we get the shortest month of the year?” I always laugh when I hear someone say that because it essence it seems that way, but that’s not why Black History Month is in February at all. It is in February because of two men who greatly influenced African Americans have birthdays in February, that being Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Carter G. Woodson, an African American Historian actually started what we know as Black History Month as Negro History Week in 1926 during the second week in February because Douglass and Lincoln’s birthday’s coincide that week. Woodson felt that African Americans contributions were overlooked and ignored in history so he pushed for African Americans to have a week to reflect on our contributions to American History. Since 1976 Black History Month is celebrated the entire month of February in the United States and Canada while the United Kingdom celebrates it in October.
The question I pose to myself sometimes is “Have we come to the point where Black History should just be considered American History?” I pose this question as some other people do because Black History in essence is American History. A lot of African Americans had a strong hand in helping build this country. They came in the form of inventors, educators, members of the armed forces, and many other areas that all are a part of American History.
Even though we pay special attention to African Americans during the month of February I think that us studying that history shouldn’t just be celebrated for just one month, but the other 11 months as well just as the rest of American History is recognized in the classrooms and beyond. I think everyone knows about the Civil Rights Movement and what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. contributed, but it was so many more African Americans that contributed to this country after him and I say that with the upmost respect to Dr. King.
When I was in high school I didn’t hear about Mark Dean and Dennis Moeller who developed high performance software for IBM and compatible PC’s that allowed computer components to communicate with each other more efficiently. There system was patents were marketed in the IBM and PC/AT computers in 1984.
I didn’t hear about Lonnie Johnson who invented what we know as the “Super Soaker” in 1988. It was originally named the “Power Drencher” and was patented as the Super Soaker in 1991. If you think back how many of us actually had a “Super Soaker it makes you think a little!” I know I had a few.
Let me go deeper though. Dr. Patricia Bath invented the Cataract Laserphaco Probe which is the machine that removes cataracts by laser. She was able to restore people who had been legally blind for 30 years with eyesight. The machine was patented in 1988 and she also holds that same patent in Japan, Canada, and Europe.
I mentioned these 4 people because I feel like we all can relate to these inventions today and there are so many others before them that I don’t even have time to name! People may read this and say that I feel that Black History Month isn’t necessary, but that’s not what I mean at all. I just simply wish that the discoveries of African Americans are recognized just like everyone else’s in America!
People may not like this saying, but it essence it’s true. “We came so far, yet we have so far to go.” I’m proud of the accomplishments of African Americans big and small! The biggest by far is that we have an African American President in my opinion. I remember Tupac and a lyric in his song “Changes.” “And Although it seems heaven sent, we ain’t ready to see a black president.” Well once what people never thought may happen or wouldn’t happen this soon happened two years ago.
I wouldn’t say I have a dream, but I have a hope. I have a hope that one day it won’t matter what race made what contribution. Hopefully the only thing that will matter is the contribution itself because this eclectic place called the United States of America is made up of so many wonderful people and cultures. Everybody deserves some love and appreciation, but at the end of the day we all play for the same team……
“13 Ways” ( The Movement)
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