Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The History of Black History

This post brought to you in part by http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmintro1.html and http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/ethnic_relig/blckhist.html

Last week when I had my rant, a reader in the comments suggested that Black History month was created by white people who felt sorry for past and present mistakes. This got me thinking about how did this time of year come about. So this is my history side coming out.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a son of former slaves, graduated from high school at the age of 22, after spending just two years there. Later on, he enrolled at Harvard University where he earned his Ph D. (most likely in history). Disturbed by the fact that many of the historical text books he read had little to no information about the stories of black Americans, Woodson set out to change all that. In 1915 he created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). A year later, this organization began to publish the scholarly journal entitled Journal of Negro History.

Then on February 12, 1926, Dr. Woodson did something radical by dedicating a week in February to Black History. Woodson chose this week out of the year because he wanted to honor the birthdays of two men who he felt were important to the advancement of black Americans (Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas). It was called Negro History Week and was created to give national attention to this particular minority group at the time (I hate the word "minority", seeing that collectively, minorities outnumber the "majority". Plus it gives an idea of inferiority past the superficiality of numbers, but I digress).

The story ends when in 1976 the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History instituted the month-long celebration of black history.

So whenever someone tells you, "Why do we have a month just for black history?" You can tell them to read this blog post.

Something Related

I don't want to bore you guys with my history complaints. This is a knitting blog after all. However, I have to respond to a comment that Deborah left from my rant last week. She had some interesting things to say. Basically she said that not only are we segregated as a people but even our study of people is segregated. This is true not only for African-Americans, but for all kinds of other groups in the United States. College campuses all across the country have courses that focus on all kinds of people from Spanish speakers to women. However, the stories of these individuals are still largely excluded from mainstream textbooks (this is my interpretation of what Deborah said). I would suggest that maybe if we integrated our histories into one textbook more often, then integrating ourselves wouldn't be so hard? Maybe I'm being too idealistic? What do you think about what Deborah said?


I know that this post is long, but I didn't want to have a whole week of Black History rants and have not much knitting content. I'm still working on my vest pattern. I'm finding that it's somewhat big for me, but maybe when I block, it will shrink a bit. In terms of me pattern writing, this book has helped me out alot and I honestly feel that I'm not copying someone else's work. So I'll keep you posted on that.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

The reality of Black History Month pleases me much more than my imagination! Whew.