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February Community Impact Blog: Black History Month: Be the Change

Community Impact Blog: Black History Month Allows Us to “Be the Change” We Need

By Dr. Deborah Curry, Program Manager for The Basics Southwest Alabama

As an Educator, how does Black History Month allow us to “Be the Change” that we need in our community?

I am a wife, mother of three sons, and an educator by trade for nearly thirty years. Therefore, this topic is very passionate to me. Black History Month is a great time to encourage and show others how to “Be the Change” our community desperately needs. However, I believe we must first understand who, when, where, and why Black History Month was started.

Black History Month started in the United States around 1915. It was founded by author and historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH). Through this organization, Dr. Woodson began the first Negro History Week in 1926. This became a yearly celebration of Black contributions that occurred on the second week of February to concur with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation paved the way for slavery’s abolition, and Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became a notable activist and orator. The aim was for Black History to be emphasized in schools throughout the United States of America. By 1976, it finally became official, with President Gerald R. Ford’s declaring February as Black History Month and urging the public to “seize” the opportunity to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout the country. Today Black History Month is celebrated in the U. S. and Canada every February and in the United Kingdom in October.”

As we remember and honor the importance of Black History Month, we also have the opportunity to learn, take action, and decide how to contribute to the change our community needs. A few ways to “Be the Change” is to honor the legacy and achievements of Black men and women, engage in challenging and uncomfortable conversations, speak up for racial justice and equity, and support organizations and business that provide assistance and resources in the Black communities, and most importantly engage in self-reflection on how to be part of the “Change.”

Black History Month enables children and adults of all backgrounds the opportunity to gain a better understanding of Black histories. As a result, we can look more closely at racism, oppression, and Black achievement. In addition, learn about all facets of Black History to “Be the Change” in the Community for things today, tomorrow, and beyond.