Why We Need Black History Month
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Why We Need Black History Month

And why a White History Month is out of the question.

Why We Need Black History Month
San Francisco Bay View

Many Americans seem to believe the goal of racial equality has been reached. I mean we have a black president, why on earth would we still need a Black History Month? Or, as if it is some sort of compromise, we can keep Black History Month but also need to add a White History Month. This is not only ridiculous but points to a frightening degree of ignorance, both to the presence of racism (yes, even in 2016) and to the original intention of Black History Month. Before anyone writes this off as white guilt, take a look at these five studies that highlight racial bias of our society as a whole which is still perpetuating. As a result, there are three major reasons we need to keep Black History Month and absolutely do not need a White History Month.

Black History Month, was not always a month. When it was first started by historian Carter G. Woodson, it was named “Negro Heritage Week” and was to be celebrated the second week of February, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, an African American social reformer and abolitionist. Negro Heritage Week was meant to be a week long remembrance, not of African American history, but African Americans in history. Only decades later, in the wake of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, did it become Black History Month after President Gerald Ford first officially recognized it as a month in 1976. He argued that it was the American public’s duty to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. Since 1976, every president has designated February as Black History Month.

The reason for the emphasis on black history is due to the tendency of United States history to be whitewashed in an attempt to point to American exceptionalism. While we are not the only country in the world to try to emphasize the good and ignore the bad in our past, it does set a dangerous precedent. In recent years, there has been a debate about changing the Advanced placement United-States History (APUSH) course so that it focuses on “American exceptionalism” as opposed to being critical of our nation’s history. While on the surface it seems like a harmless idea, it is necessary to consider how that will affect racial issues. For example, slavery happened, no one argues about that, but when we discuss the Civil War, it conveniently becomes about states rights. The errors made throughout American history become meaningless when glazed over to emphasize the successes.

One of the major complaints against Black History Month is that supporters of the month are perpetuating a double standard by celebrating the heritage of African Americans while seemingly ignoring the achievements of white historical figures. This line of “logical” thought ignores the fact that equality is not a zero-sum game, meaning that contrary to popular belief, just because someone “wins,” does not mean that someone necessarily has to lose.

Exhibit A: Backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement. Critics who argue that “all lives matter” are missing the point. Ideas like Black Lives Matter and Black History Month are not arguing that black lives or black history are more important than other races’. They simply want to emphasize that there is a trend against minorities that is often overlooked by the general population. In short, "all lives" can't matter until we accept that "black lives" do matter.

Imagine a different scenario, like illness. When we remove race from the equation everyone starts to be a bit more rational. Saying “all lives matter” or “if you want a black history month, then we need a white history month” is like going to school and when a friend announces they have a terminal illness, saying “well I’m sick, too” because you have the flu. No one would do that because we realize how ridiculously insensitive and selfish it is.

Black history month does not propose the idea that white history does not matter, it points out that in the US white history has always mattered. To argue that the history of blacks and whites have been equally celebrated is inaccurate, and to go a step further and argue that we need a white history month in addition to black history month is to create a false equivalence. Black history month does not argue against white history, it argues that black history has been overlooked.

It becomes very clear that when the necessity of a Black History Month is affirmed, then any possibility of a need for a white History Month goes out the door. We cannot emphasize the history of the majority without taking away from the history of minorities, something that has been done since the conception of the United States.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.


Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments