Black History Month: Celebrating African-American Achievements


Black History Month, which began in 1976 — and is officially recognized by every U.S. president to date — is celebrated throughout February, serving as a voice to share the stories of those who have struggled through a prejudiced society as well as recognizing the achievements of black individuals. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, and several others are integral figures in history who have made historically groundbreaking strides in hopes to improve the lives of black people in America. Black History Month has also taken form as a connection between black individuals and their culture as the month provides time for celebration as well as remembrance.
“I feel like the more that people know about black history, the more you’ll get a better appreciation for it as a whole, if that makes sense. Knowledge is power, so just the more that you know, the more that you’re aware of certain things,” said University of Hawaii sophomore Zoar Nedd, who moved from the mainland to Hawaii at a young age to avoid prejudice and the fear of being a person of color.
Black history is filled with strong figures who have taken strides in order to reconfigure societal views on race and social injustice, and there are many advocates who still work toward that goal today. The month’s purpose stands to carry about the acknowledgement of such figures and their accomplishments as well as to give and support black individuals in the present day. Where knowledge might lack, the month provides open opportunities for learning about cultures and stories that most aren’t acquainted with.
“Black history has always been a big thing for me and my family- even small things, like I didn’t really know what Juneteenth was until I got to college, but I feel that’s something that everybody should know,” said Nedd, “Schools are kind of sheltering you from the grand scheme of things, saying like, ‘Oh, it’s Black History Month. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcom X, and Barack Obama.’ They don’t really dive into it, the real pioneers that are behind the scenes on top of those big four pillars.”
The start of February brings about the continuous growth of awareness of black individuals with commemoration. The month bears a time to take into consideration the issues that black citizens endure. As stories of struggles faced by black people in society come into light, the need for education on the challenges and achievements of black history has become a lesson of importance. This is made especially possible with the usage of social media platforms that make the spread of information and awareness more easily accessible by the masses. With the power of the digital age, it’s easier to access knowledge through an infographic or minute long video on social media, or even an online article highlighting notable events.
“I feel like there are so many more people out there who understand what I go through, being black. I feel more connected knowing I have people that are like me, that are with me,” said sophomore Sariah Banks.
Black History Month has experienced a particular surge in attention over the course of recent years with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others. The summer of 2020 saw the increased rise in not just online activism but those taking to the streets to practice protest towards the events that occurred. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought awareness and national attention to the racism black individuals face on a daily basis. During 2021, Black History Month was celebrated in mass media, schools, sports, and more. Shedding light onto not just civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, the month provides opportunities for reconnection with cultural identity.
“Me and my family like to celebrate by having meals that represent our culture together,” said sophomore Aria Sumpter. “Each person in my family makes a dish and we all have a potluck either at my house or at my grandma’s house.”
Throughout the years, African-American culture has always emphasized the importance of solidarity and community. Black History Month was created in order to exemplify the sense of shared understanding and unification by giving African-American and other black families and individuals a chance to celebrate what it is that emulates black experiences.
“Learning about my culture and experiencing it has shaped me into the person I am today because I am more aware of the history and meaning of things that the African-American culture came up with or first started,” said Sumpter.
For many, black history month stands as a form of reconnection to parts of their heritage. The opportunity to learn deeper about the intricacies of history and culture opens up new insights on how topics may be perceived. Not only serving as a way to form cultural pride for black individuals, Black History Month serves as a way for others to take the time and learn about untold stories, further deepening understanding on unfamiliar issues.
“Black History Month is about taking the time to see what people had to go through and everything that they had to fight for and it’s just like a celebration of them, as a group,” said Banks.