Black History Month

What it is and What to Do

Gracelyn Perrine, Opinions Editor

Black History Month is recognized during the month of February, where the people of the United States are to reflect and honor the challenges, strides, and sacrifices that black communities have endured and continue to progress for. Trinity King, a fellow student, furthers the meaning behind Black History Month by stating that it, “for the younger black generation, has become a celebration. We celebrate our success that was made not long ago while celebrating what we can still do to make America a country for all”. 

The recognition of Black History Month originated in 1923, and started as “Negro History Week”; however, the idea of this week eventually grew to hold large acceptance, leading to the commemoration of the whole month in the 1960s. This is similar in which other minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+, have a “pride month”. While many can say that they know that February is Black History Month, there are still so many that have not had the education, or have simply chosen not to fully understand the value in this dedication and reflection. Awareness is the first step, but as said by King, “Awareness is the bare minimum. The black communities are no longer asking for people to be aware, but to consciously change systems that favor white communities. In order for that to happen students, teachers, and higher ups first have to accept that they are in a state of privilege”. 

February was chosen as Black History Month, as it coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. As taught in history, Lincoln was heavily involved in the Emancipation of Slaves, an effort to free slaves and allow them to claim some grasp of independence and freedom. Douglass, on the other hand, was a former slave and was known to play a large part in the Aboltionist Movement: an effort to abolish, or end, slavery completely. Due to both these former leaders having birthdays in the second week of February, the emancipation of slaves was often celebrated during this week. This is ultimately why February was chosen to commemorate this effort and historical appreciation. 

During the month of February, it is important to remember to look back on the hardship, discrimination, and inequality black communities endured, and continue to endure. The United States has always been a divided country, and while large strides have been made since the historical past, there will always still be so much more room for improvement when it comes to minority groups. Stated by King, “I would say getting to know the cause is a step in the right direction. White fragility can make this hard to understand and with the BLM Movement, many think black people want to be higher or treated the best; however, a lot of black people just want to live their lives without the system trying to get in the way”. The views of justified racial inequality still remain in many, which ultimately disallows the statement of “with liberty and justice for all” in our own pledge of allegiance.

As I, Gracelyn Perrine, have had the privilege of never enduring inequality based on the color of my skin, I wanted to be able to gather a voice of someone who not only is a major advocate for racial equality, but also someone who has experienced this inequality first hand. This is why I reached out to Trinity King, a student at Chesterton High School, to ask what Black History Month means to her, and what everybody can do to make a difference for the future. 

Black History Month, and even The Black Lives Matter movement, are not nearly a political agenda nor ideology. These instead represent and bring attention to the years of oppression and racism for black communities, stemming from our own systems. There are still so many people of color who do not have the same privilege and independence that white Americans do; remember to come from a point of view that sees all, not just your individual experiences. Take the time to educate yourself and make the change.