As January wraps itself up and we move into February, many of us think about this month as a moniker for winter’s upcoming transition into spring. However, February is much more significant than that for many reasons, one of which is its status as Black History Month. February has been given this title as a means of remembering the contributions that black people have made to both this nation as well as the world at large in every avenue of advancement. Many forms of media make great efforts to air special programs or write dedicated articles (like the one you’re reading right now) about the many black minds and accomplishments that often go unaccounted for, unnoticed, or attributed to a name that is not their own. As Christians, we are religiously obligated to acknowledge and respect these people, and as a Christian campus, we put on many events and sermons in honor of African-American history. For example, we will have our yearly MLK chapel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and there will certainly be more announcements for other Black History Month happenings in your campus email inbox as February progresses.
Black History Month used to be only a week in length when Carter G. Woodson initially formulated the idea. He and other supporters decided that it would be the second week of February, as the birthdays of both President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass fall within this week. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized it as a month-long celebration, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Ever since, the month has been honored every year as a time where Americans can learn about the importance of African-American contributions to this nation. While there is still opposition to this month’s recognition as one of official national importance, Ford’s quote here perfectly and inarguably explains its relevance in modern America. The white race takes up almost the entire narrative of human history and will likely continue to do so for some time, so a month can certainly be afforded to the achievements of a different and equally important people group. We should recognize what black people have done for both this nation and the world on a year-round basis, but annually celebrating Black History Month is more than a good enough place to start.