Black History Month

The history, celebration and meaning of Black History Month.


National Geographic Society

Photos of some important African American figures in American history.

Makayah McCray, Staff Writer

Black History Month is a month of  celebration and education;  of black culture, contributions, and history. Every February black people are celebrated and highlighted in the United States, Canada and recognized in other countries. Black History Month started as Negro History Week and was later turned into a whole month of acknowledgement. Carter G. Woodson was a historian and founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

 “His hopes to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort,” According to Daryl Michael Scott of Howard University.” Negro History week was supported heavily, which encouraged more people to participate.

 “A long time ago we actually introduced the entire month, saying Black History Month used to be a week of Black History, now it’s a month and  because it’s a month it is   a spotlight on black progress and also black contribution…..”,  Co-President of BSU, Tyler Hall said.

The month of February was chosen because of the importance of two people who helped the black community further were born in February.

“February was chosen primarily because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves, and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery. According to Johnathan Franklin of NPR,  “Black History Month also honors those  not apart of the black community who made major changes for black people during the times of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws.”

 The president recognized the relevancy of Black History Month. “The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history, ”according to Daryl Michael Scott of Howard University. The support of Black History Month  expanded the teaching of black culture and history throughout schools in the United States. 

“In school districts across the U.S., Black students, teachers, and parents began to demand that Black history courses become either part of the social studies curriculum or exist as standalone courses,” according to LaGarrett J. King of University of Missouri. African-American HIstory soon became a class for students to take in school whether as an elective or an actual history class. In schools without black history as an actual class, some teachers add African-American history  to a part of their lesson plans for the month of February. 

During this month, the Black Student Union of Suncoast will be  able to showcase black culture and educate people on topics impacting the black community. Suncoast teacher and BSU coordinator Clarence Walker is excited for BSU to showcase their work. 

“For the month of February : Black History Month, BSU has a range of activities planned; we have our annual soul food lunch-in, we have a wellness seminar that focuses on mental and physical wellness in the black community. The final culminating event is called the Afrocentric Blowout, it is a showcase of black culture through the arts , dancing, music, poetry, music, storytelling, and we also have the door decorating contest, Walker said. 

“We have a lot of events going on this month. Feb. 9 we have our Valentine’s Day card making and those will be donated to a local hospital,” Justin Ricketts, Co-President of BSU stated. 

Black History Month brings feelings of joy, recognition, and hope. The joy of finally being celebrated, the recognition of those who made changes for black people, and the hope each generation brings.

 “Black History Month allows us to understand the importance of black people and their contributions and also it gives us motivation to achieve big things in our own life,” Hall said. Suncoast showed support of BHM through the door decorating contest and the school wide Afro Centric performance.