Black History Month


Julia Epling, Writer and Designer

Black History Month is a celebration of achievements by African Americans that occurs annually. Starting in 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Black History Month originates in 1915. That September, historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). It was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements made by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.

It has since been changed to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The ASALH sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, which fell on the second week of February because it aligned with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Years later, mayors across the country began issuing yearly proclamations that recognized Negro History Week. Negro History Week then evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses in the 1960’s. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976.

Fort Wayne is just one of many cities that celebrate Black History Month. There are several events residents could have gone to during February. The African/African-American Historical Society Museum showcases early Fort Wayne’s earliest African and African-American settlers. The Allen County Public Library always features books written by black authors, but throughout February, the library offered collaborative murals, storytimes, music discussions, and breakfasts at different branches. The Genealogy Center, while technically a part of Allen County Public Library, features one of the largest research collections available that many don’t know about. For Black History Month, they host several special events to help examine African American collections.

 “When you look at the MLK Club; when you look at the NAACP; when you look at Inkspot, a black operated and black owned newspaper; when you look at various organizations in the community, they have been taking the charge to make sure that the history is not forgotten and therefore carried forward,” Councilwoman Sharon Tucker said.

Despite these events and businesses, many residents still believe that Fort Wayne could do more to acknowledge Black History Month. 

“What I would like to see as a city, is not just the 28 days of February, but throughout the 365 days of our calendar to continue finding and seek ways to advance all nationalities but especially Black history. When we focus primarily on Black History Month, then we forget about Black history the other 11 months,” Tucker said.

Jai’Niya Barrett (12)  also thinks Homestead should try and do more to celebrate Black History Month. “Growing up, I have been to many different schools and all of them have taught the same thing during February. There are many historical black women and men who have made many changes, other than Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks,” Barrett said.

After a historical summer, there was a lot of focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and Black history. That’s why the Black History Month theme for 2021 was “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” The theme explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States. People began to focus on the institutional racism black Americans face everyday.

We need to seek ways where we can constantly remind ourselves of not only our American history that we teach all the time within the schools, but also that Black history should be a daily taught scenario…If we find a way to make Black history normalized within the everyday language, within the everyday process, then we also fight people being okay with (not remembering Black history) the other 11 months of the year,  I think it’s dangerous (for Black history to be confined to one month) because it has given America the sense to believe that it’s only important during that one month – that after this month, then Rosa Park and Martin Luther King Jr. and all of the people that went before us and forged this path to equality, then all that work is done outside of that one month. ” Sharon said.