Written By: Erendira Zazueta, Coalition Coordinator
While there are some people who argue that black history should be taught all year round, it is celebrated nationwide in the month of February. During this time we honor the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped the nation throughout history, we celebrate the culture, triumphs, adversities, and remember the hardships they went through. It is most important for schools to participate and provide some education on Black history so that the youth can learn about African American history and culture so that we as a nation can continue moving forward and not repeat the negative aspects of the history.
It was Carter G. Woodson who’s considered the “father of Black History who first set out in 1926 to designate a time to promote and educate people about Black history and culture. It first started as a weeklong celebration, and it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that it was actually celebrated for a month. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976 during the country’s bicentennial. He said it was an opportunity to honor Black Americans. To this day that is exactly what we do, we celebrate and honor Black Americans and everything they’ve done and gone through in the nation.
The reason the month of February was chosen was because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of Slaves and Douglass, who was a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement which fought to end slavery. It was during the second week of February when African Americans were holding celebrations to honor the emancipation, so it was fit to have Black history month celebrated in February.
Every year they have a new theme for Black History month and this year’s theme is African Americans and the Arts. The highlight will be African American music, literature, film, culinary and other arts. A theme to focus on is the 2022 theme which was Black Health and Wellness. While it is good to highlight the wonders of African Americans in healthcare and all the great discoveries they’ve made, it is also important to highlight the disparities they faced back then and even up until this date. According to the CDC, African Americans are more likely to die at an early age for all causes. This could be due to a lot of things like unemployment, lack of health care around them, housing, family drug use amongst other factors. Throughout history it’s been known that African Americans do not receive the same health care as White Americans do. In history they even used African American men in 1932 to determine the long-term effects of syphilis by not treating their patients who were positive for syphilis in the famous Tuskegee study. African Americans were being used for science instead of getting taken care of.
Health disparities greatly affect many different races. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. All do not receive the same health care as White Americans. The patient to doctor ratio is higher, there are longer wait times in clinics, the doctors are sometimes not as experienced as doctors who serve mainly White Americans. To this day our healthcare has ethically gotten better but overall, there are still many disparities and it’s affecting the lives of millions of people. It sometimes is not the fault of the healthcare workers themselves, it’s sometimes our government.
Thank you for checking out this week’s blog, check in next week as we talk more about health disparities and check out our social media as well!
1. NPR (2022). Here's the story behind Black History Month — and why it's celebrated in February. https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1075623826/why-is-february-black-history-month#:~:text=It%20was%20Carter%20G.%20Woodson,Life%20and%20History%20(ASALH)
2. Pfizer (2023). Health Disparities Among African-Americans. https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/health_disparities_among_african_americans
1. Caribbean Riddims (2023). Black History Month Celebrations. https://caribbeanriddims.com/city-of-miramar-announces-black-history-month-celebrations/
2. The Highlander News (2020). Black History Month Events Focus On Present. https://thehighlandernews.org/arts-and-entertainment/on-campus-events/2020/01/26/black-history-month-events-focus-on-present-kailene-dm/
3. National Institutes Of Health (2023). Minority Health and Health Disparities Research: Running the Marathon, Maintaining the Momentum. https://www.nih.gov/ending-structural-racism/minority-health-health-disparities-research-running-marathon-maintaining-momentum