The month of February is recognized as Black History Month and is dedicated to appreciating the tough and admirable contributions made by African-Americans to American culture.
Black History month started in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S. Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization dedicated to celebrating achievements by Black Americans and other people of African descent.
The goal of the organization was simply to promote fair and just recognition. The founders understood the importance of history and lineage and where people come from. To omit or degrade people’s contribution because of their skin color was exactly the issue people like Carter Woodson were trying to fix.
Woodson was adamant that people should want to learn about black culture and living, and stressed the importance of not bringing in teachers who did not know more about it than the students.
As the nation moved into the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, efforts to study Black life and history were ramped up in public schools. Celebrations of Black history grew more common, too. In the South, Black teachers taught Black history as a supplement to the U.S. history curriculum being taught at the time.
By the 1960s, civil rights and Black history had changed shape entirely as people like MLK took a stand to fight for the dream he and so many other Black Americans had. Before the decade was over, the original “Negro History Week” had expanded to a month-long appreciation and celebration of Black life.
By 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, and urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
“The goal of the organization was simply to promote fair and just recognition. The founders understood the importance of history and lineage and where people come from. To omit or degrade people’s contribution because of their skin color was exactly the issue people like Carter Woodson were trying to fix.”
Black History Month brings into focus the important men and women that have shaped the world we live in today. This includes important activists and civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.
NMSU Black Programs works to keep that idea of celebration at the forefront every day. Its mission is to unite African-American, Caribbean and students of African descent by increasing awareness and appreciation through educational, cultural, social and academic programs. Interim Director Bobbie Green pointed out that students of color often face challenges that other students may not. “We understand that students of color must overcome unrelenting obstacles while getting an education. But those trailblazers who came before us have cleared a path. We can follow their lead and use their determination as a motivator for our success,” Green said.
The NMSU Black Programs website publishes a calendar of events, information about important figures in Black history, as well as original content like blogs and podcasts for students. Additionally, the website contains access to information about scholarships, grants and other financial opportunities.
NMSU has been celebrating Black history throughout the month of February by hosting a series of events. Black Programs has hosted barbeques, movies and discussion nights, as well as dinner outings. Any way to keep students invested and appreciated is the organization’s goal. The celebration will continue with a POSE underground ball at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Corbett Center ballroom. There will also be a Black health fair event happening on Monday, Feb. 27, in Corbett Center’s Aggie lounge from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.