Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time to recognize their role in history.
Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” which was the brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.
Since 1976, every United States president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. As a Black woman, the significance of Black History Month has differed throughout the year as I learn more about myself and our country as a whole.
As children in the education system, we learn about the importance of the same specific historical figures, events, and how they have afforded us the privileges and freedoms that we know and enjoy today. It is not always comfortable being one of few Black or brown faces in a classroom when learning about the terrors of slavery and racism, but there is also room for a sign of relief in how far we have come.
As we grow older, we recognize that this month is not only a time for education and appreciation, but also a time for self reflection.
We reflect on the fact that while progress has been made, there is still substantial room for improvement to give future generations better as those before us have done. We instill confidence in our children to dream big by educating them on the successes of those black faces not often recognized for their accomplishments in history.
We use this time to urge others to educate themselves on the importance of involvement in resolution of social issues and systemic racism. Most importantly we reflect on the pride and power we have in our ability to remain unapologetically comfortable in our own skin.
If you are wondering how to celebrate Black History Month, consider buying items from Black-owned businesses, read stories by Black authors, donate to a Black organization, or simply educate yourself about Black history.
Happy Black History Month.
Aly Wenner is the program director for REM
Iowa Community Services in Marshalltown.
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