Black History Month—and an enduring lesson

Originally appeared on

Black History Month has arrived once again. And as an African American man, I’ve found myself asking questions about this commemoration for the first time in a long, long while. Questions such as: What is black history all about? Why should everyone care? How should we celebrate?

Spurred on by my two-year-old daughter, Ayoka, and her intelligent childlike curiosity, as well as the US election of its first African American president, I was inspired to dig deeper and clarify what black history means to me.

In my exploration, I learned that the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, established “Negro History Week” in the 1920s, to coincide with the birthday week of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. And in the late 1970s, “Negro History Week” evolved into what we know and observe today as Black History Month. Celebrations now include everything from community and musical gatherings, poetry writing contests, to educational presentations put on by young people.

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