When one thinks of February, they might think “What day is Groundhog Day?” or “Is this year a leap year?” But February is also a very important month culturally for the United States. It’s Black History Month.
Black History Month was first celebrated as Negro History Week in 1926. It wasn’t until 1976 that President Ford officially recognized it as Black History Month, according to history. com. Since then, it has served its purpose year after year as a month to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans, which along with multiracial students, make up 12.8 percent of the school’s population.
“Black history in the United States is often overlooked or considered the same as the predominantly Caucasian history taught in schools. However there are important differences between those two histories and it is necessary that our school is aware of these differences and how the black community has gotten to where it is today despite facing struggles, which the Caucasian community has never faced,” Vice President of Black Empowerment Club and senior Jackson Schiefelbein said.
Because of these reasons, the school holds an annual Black History Month assembly. While many people respond positively to the assembly, the student body has responded negatively to the assembly in the past. “For the first year, we dealt with angry emails from parents saying we were racially motivating their kids. The second year, we had students calling us racial slurs; one student spit on a Black Empowerment Club member, but we also had support,” President of Black Empowerment Club and senior Ashley Sankey said.
Regardless of how the audience perceives the school assembly, Black History Month is still important, not just to the African American community, but to the entire United States. It was created to show how African Americans helped shape the United States, and everyone is encouraged to take part in appreciating their part in America’s history.
“We cannot forget about America’s history and every group that takes part in it. I believe that everyone, no matter where they come from or what they look like or who they are, deserve equality and deserve to be heard,” President of Face to Face and senior Amy Kadakia said.
There are a variety of ways to celebrate the month besides attending the school assembly. Ohio State University holds several programs throughout the month of February including screenings that cover the history of the month, such as “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” and community discussions that cover current topics, such as “Being African in America in the Age of Trump,” according to mcc.osu.edu.
The theme of Black History Month this year is “African Americans in Times of War.” In order to convey this topic without just being a long history lesson, Diversity Club members have decided to reenact parts of history while still educating the audience.
“We want to highlight [African Americans’] valuable sacrifices to this country for which they were uncredited at times. Along with that, we also want to address some present day issues that are intertwined with the military,” Vice President of Face to Face and junior Ananya Potlapalli said.
Students of all ethnicities are encouraged to take part in the celebrations, whether it be going to one of the programs at OSU or viewing a historical film. All students will have at least one opportunity on Feb. 9, when they will be excused from classes to attend the assembly.