Let's go back to February 1st. In high schools, elementary schools, and even colleges around the United States, the student body celebrates Black History Month. Some colleges hold an event in the main part of campus, where students can learn about African American visionaries and learn about black heritage. The black student body emerges from where they are the rest of the eleven months out of the year, and participate in the festivities. For that one day, people talk of George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and other influential African Americans.
However, After the first of the month, where does everyone go?
No longer do people participate in events, and no one hears from the black student body. Yes, maybe some places will go over the people everyone already knows, talking of the accomplishments of parties such as the Black Panthers, or talk of Malcolm X or Sojourner Truth, but what of everyone else? What of the rest of the month? After all, it is Black History Month and not just Black History Day, correct? It seems that other than on the very first day of February, no one cares about Black History Month. Even though it is the shortest month of the year, society would rather spend its time speaking of trifling issues such as who won what at the Grammy's rather than giving African American's the one month they worked hard for.
But it's not just society, don't get me wrong. It is also African American's who must show that they still want the representation during their month of heritage. Following the first of the month, unless one were to search for it, there is very little to no presence of the black community promoting the successes of their ancestors. Instead, everyone moves on, and people just assume that it is celebrated. People hand out fliers at the beginning of the month, stating events that they will be holding, but after that, it all seems to disappear. The turnout rate from the first of the month to events held later on in the month dwindles. People seem to care less. There is more promotion for people fundraising cake jars then there is for those who are trying to draw attention for black influencers.
People seem tired of Black History Month, and to be honest, they probably are.
Over the years, February has seemed to be on a constant repeat as far as Black History Month goes. Each year, the trademark African Americans are put on display. People talk about Dr. King and his I Have a Dream speech. They lecture about Rosa Parks, and how she sat down to stand up for something. If you want an inventor, George Washington Carver and his peanuts come into play. This droning on of the same African American people has gotten tiring, and it's completely understandable why people are bored of the month, and why it isn't as celebrated. Why celebrate something when all anyone is going to go over are the same people you've heard of every year, in the second month of the year. There needs to be an increase in the people who are celebrated and revered for their accomplishments. In order to draw attention and support for the one month out of the year that black Americans get, they need to show that they, too, understand what this month is all about.
While there is no discredit to the accomplishments of those I mentioned above, there should be more talk of those who not everyone does know. While mainstream media is starting to do an alright job of showing African Americans who are not as well known, yet just as influential (see 2016's film, Hidden Figures) there needs to be more representation in order to create a better understanding of the heritage and why Black History Month is important. People should learn about Dr. Charles Drew, who invented a way to separate and store plasma for blood banks. Or maybe they should research Alice H. Parker, who created a furnance so we could stay warm in the winter. They could even look into Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, who contributed greatly to telephones, creating caller ID, and touch tone dialing.
Without the representation needed, Black History Month may just fade away into another holiday marked on our calendars that no one notices. This month is crucial in showcasing the successes of black peoples, and if it continues to go virtually unrecognized, there may not be any importance in February holding the title of Black History Month.