The Importance of Black History Month and Women History Month

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The Importance of Black History Month and Women History Month

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America is a country widely celebrated for its diversity, and as a Venezuelan immigrant myself, I can attest that America is perhaps the most culturally significant country in the world. From February 1st to February 28th, Black History Month is celebrated across the nation, with many schools and companies commemorating black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Women’s History Month is celebrated on March 1st until March 31st, coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 18th.

However, many Americans ask why there’s a Black History Month and a Women’s History Month. Many of the people asking these questions don’t know the history surrounding these events or the importance of them. It represents more than a celebration of history or a reason to talk about black history. It’s a representation of the struggle many minorities face in America, and the backbone of the America: The citizens.

The thing about American history is that it’s always been centered around struggle. From the very start, English settlers were simply refugees attempting to escape religious persecution in Europe. After that is a long winding road comprised of civil rights, suffrage, and gender & race equality. At first, America did not commemorate these events, we simply recorded the history of them. Ironically enough, the origins of Black & Women’s History Month can be traced back to the recording of the history of each respective party.

For Black History Month, the start began in 1915, 5 decades before the Civil Rights Movement and after the abolishment of slavery. Carter G. Woodson, an African-American history journalist, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life & History, the oldest and most prominent organization centered around Black History & Culture.

With the help of ASNLH, Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week, celebrated during the second week of February, which include the birthday of important abolitionist figures Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The events were first celebrated in black communities, but grew in popularity during the civil rights movement. On college campuses, it evolved into Black History Month, before becoming an officialized American celebration in 1976 by President Gerald Ford to raise awareness of black identity.

The beginning of Women’s History Month can be traced back to Sonoma County, California in 1978. Sonoma County’s school districts presented a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade in Santa Rosa celebrating innovative American women. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter, inspired by Sonoma County, declared the week containing the date of March 8th as National Women’s Week.

However, for International Women’s Day, which is March 8th as well, it was celebrated sparsely across the country by small communities since 1911, and not officially recognized by the United Nations until 1975. In 1987, Congress expanded these holidays to take up the full month of March.

While these holidays were around for over a century, they weren’t officialized until the 70s and 80s. So, why are they so important? The main purpose behind these events have been and always will be to educate the youth, especially those we celebrate, of the pasts accomplishments and how THEY can be a part of that. It is crucial to our society to celebrate the accomplishment of the minorities, of the citizens, and of the American dreamers of the past; So the future can be filled with these types of accomplishments as well.

As we continue to celebrate these holidays in the coming weeks, Rockwall students should keep in mind the history behind them and the importance accompanying it. We are the future, and to make the future brighter, weĺl celebrate the past.

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