Sam Askew, Campus Carrier managing editor
Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier editor in chief
Black History Month is an exciting time of year not just for Black Americans, but all Americans. Black history is a fundamental part of American history, and its importance cannot be overstated. Berry College has an exciting array of events established for celebrating Black history, among those are the Diversity Open-Mic Night (see pg. 12) and the Danielle Coke lecture tonight at 6:30 in Berry’s Intercultural Center. Though Black History Month is an important month in the year, many do not know the history of it.
The origin of Black History Month begins in 1915 when University of Chicago alumnus Carter G. Woodson and A.L. Jackson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
Originally, ASALH sponsored a national African American History Week in 1926 during the second week of February in order to coincide with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two important figures in Black history.
In the 1960s, however, things changed. Duringthe civil rights movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., African American History Week evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. Since then, every president has officially designated February as Black History Month.
While there are many notable figures in Black history, secretary of Berry’s Black Student Association (BSA) Daeshani Parker highlighted Claudette Colvin.
“She was the girl who said no on the bus before Rosa Parks,” Parker said. “I feel like not a lot of people know about her, but Rosa Parks was not the first people to start boycotting the bus segregation. It was a 15-year-old girl.”
According to Parker, Colvin was not emphasized like Rosa Parks because the NAACP did not see her as fit enough to be the face of the bus boycott due to the fact that she was 15 and pregnant at the time.
Educating oneself on Black history is one of the most important things to be done because it is inseparable from American history.
“I feel like a lot of educating needs to be done,” Parker said. “In my three years at Berry a lot of people shy away from picking up a book or looking at Google. They’d rather their Black peers educate them.”
The unfortunate reality is that much Black history has been swept under the rug.
“Not a lot of us [Black individuals] don’t know about our history because it’s been chipped away from us,” Parker said.
While many expect their Black peers to be the face of Black history, people do not realize that that may be difficult to do so if they put no effort into educating themselves on their own.
“It’s a burden for us [Black individuals] to keep living our past trauma even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves to educate people who don’t seem to care,” Parker said.
While Berry has come a long way in recognizing Black history, there is still a long way to go.
“I would like to see more cookout events,” Parker said. “Cookouts are the heart of black American culture.”
It is also important for berry to make sure that people of color are aware of the resources that are available to them.
“This semester and next we are working very hard to publicize ourselves and make us available because we know that the Black population here is small, but we are here,” Parker said. “There are numbers here.”
However, Parker said, even though BSA is for Black students, other people are welcome to come and observe the meetings.
“We do encourage other people to come and observe our meetings and listen because we do have a good time and it helps build our community and understanding,” Parker said.
Black History Month is an important time to reflect on important Black figures that built this country, but also the ones that are relatively unknown. America was founded on the oppression of people of color, and we have a long way to go on repairing that damage. Black History Month is merely the beginning of an important movement to uplift Black voices and highlight all the way that we as a country can come together under mutual understanding and love for one another regardless of whatever sets us apart.