As I write this, we are in the middle of Black History Month 2021. By the time this is posted, Black History Month will have officially wrapped up. My hope is that I have reflected, participated, and supported events throughout the month and I hope the same for you. Yet something has been gnawing at me for some time, and had been brought again to the forefront of my mind by a co-worker: 28 days.
The part of me that reveled in history books, poured over pages of historical accounts, and read and re-read historical fiction novels began to tap, tap, tap on my consciousness. Off I went to reeducate myself. I pulled out books that still had the old university stickers pasted on their spines and opened tab upon tab in my trusty Google search. I revisited Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Debra J. Dickerson, and wondered if my well-loved Mildred D. Taylor novels could stay bound together through another reading.
After briefly losing myself in the works of these great writers, I remembered what I went looking for: Carter G. Woodson. I reminded myself of the origins of Black History Month, how it started as a week in 1926 before expanding to a month fifty years later. I relearned how February was chosen in part to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
We are not yet even at the centennial mark of that first celebrated week in 1926. We are not yet even at the semi-centennial mark of expanding from a week to a month in 1976.
This month of recognizing, honoring, and celebrating Black History is not meant to confine our knowledge and learning and honoring to 28 days. As reminded by my co-worker, this month is already shorter than other months by two to three days. Through the unending work of Black leaders, we, as a nation, recognize Black History Month. We must cherish it and we must honor it 365 days of the year. Pick up old books and new books, learn and relearn, take in information from different accounts about the same history. I will never be done learning, and I hope you join me.