By: Sister Tarpley
The month of February is “our nation’s” observation of Black History. The 2015 theme is: “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture”
It is disheartening to think of the controversy surrounding this very important holiday in America.
Some people joked, “We were given the shortest month of the year to celebrate our history.” This is not just Black History that we are celebrating, not just America’s history, but history of the world.
Many great and useful inventions that are being used worldwide, and that are taken for granted were invented by Black people. The cell phone (Henry T. Sampson and his “gamma-electric cell”) was invented by a Black man.
The first open heart surgery (Vivien Thomas a surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s) to name essential things that are in use today.
Some people think that it’s by pure accident that some Black citizens, not the same ones that we hear about year after year; have done anything worthwhile.
There are others that easily accept that we have a few famous entertainers, sports figures and a few entrepreneurs making millions of dollars; but they are slow to recognize that there are many Blacks that have excelled, and are continuing to excel and invent devices.
They use math and science to make a difference in how we live, work, play and entertain today.
As a retired teacher, I too wish that all history of great magnitude is put in our textbooks, especially Black history, which is American’s history; in spite of what we have been taught.
But wishing it is not going to get the information in our textbooks on the grand scale that it needs to be (School Districts in Texas and California, they are the largest buyers of textbooks, could insist and get their request granted.
The story of Carter Godwin Woodson, Father of Black History (December 1875 – April 1950, is a captivating and inspiration story in itself.
Dr. Woodson said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
When Dr. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he
realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of
The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.
He believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in our country.
Dr. Woodson strongly believed that Black history—which others (even some Black people) have tried so diligently to erase—is a firm foundation for young Black people to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.
Prior to “Negro History WEEK,“ Dr. Woodson and several of his friends established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In the 1960s it was established as Black History MONTH.
In 1912 (the year my mother, Cedella Baker Demus, was born) Dr. Woodson, received his Ph.D in history from Harvard University. He developed an important philosophy of history.
History, he insisted, was not the mere gathering of fact. The object of historical study is to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the facts.
History is more than political and military records of peoples and nations. It must include some description of the social conditions of the period being studied.
Even Dr. Woodson often said that he hoped the time would come when Negro History Week would be unnecessary; when all Americans would willingly recognize the contributions of Black Americans as a legitimate and integral part of the history of this country.
His concept has given a profound sense of dignity to all Black people; and we must not forget it! Nor should we stop Black History Month.