When I attended last year’s White House Black History Month reception, it appeared few of us took note that it was the 50th anniversary of such observances. Then George Floyd and Black Lives Matter happened, seemingly changing things forever—particularly a reevaluation of the black experience.
Concerted efforts to commemorate black history go back almost a century. In 1926, black historian Carter G. Woodson designated the second week in February as “Negro History Week.” He selected the days between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on the 12th and Frederick Douglass on the 20th.
In 1970, the Black United Students group at Kent State University launched Black History Month. It gained momentum after President Gerald Ford recognized it during the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.
Still, growing up in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, I don’t remember an emphasis on black history in the classroom, even in February, until Stevie Wonder helped campaign for a Martin Luther King national holiday with