Founded by Carter G. Woodson and other key African American figures, Black History Month officially began as a week dedicated to Black legacy, struggles, and culture in 1926. The 1960s catapulted the week into a month-long tribute. The mid-1970s cemented Black History Month in America’s cultural consciousness—every president since then has affirmed Black History Month.
For Woodson, the initially designated week was symbolic of a daily ethos. He saw it as a movement, a progression of continuous education and development. As recent movements have illustrated, now, more than ever, it is crucial to recognize that the spirit of Black History Month must permeate our behavior and actions consistently in order to attain real change.
Honeysuckle is ever gnizant of the struggles of the past, the tribute we must give to key figures. At the same time, we recognize the deficiencies of the present and the crucial need for Black History Month to be a constant process of education and advocacy.
In this series, Honeysuckle’s staff express their thoughts and sentiments on Black History Month. Below, Maia McDonald elaborates her ideas surrounding Black History Month. Maia is sophomore at New York University. She is passionate about publishing stories centering on the experiences of racial and sexual minorities as well as every day pop culture.
Maia McDonald on Black History Month
After 2020, it’s a relief to focus on the happy parts of being Black. For so much of last year, the internet and the news were saturated with Black traumas and Black issues. You could hardly go a day without hearing about the gruesome murder of Black people by either law enforcement or civilians. In addition to this, Black people have seen some of the highest death rates from Covid-19.
We took to the streets in an attempt to bring attention to the wrongs that our community has witnessed for decades and were attacked by the government institutions pretending to protect us. 2020 was a year of mourning.
These issues won’t disappear with the turn of the new year; however, we have the chance to start the year with positivity. This year’s Black History Month has already allowed for Black creators to grow their followings, receive financial support, and be celebrated on a larger stage.
Platforms such as Twitter and TikTok have allowed Black creators to educate the masses on the various facts history has kept hidden from the mainstream. Though there is alway backlash, this year has already seen more support for Black people on the internet than in years prior.
For me, this is what Black History Month is about. It is not only celebrating the shared history of Black people in this country, but it is also about celebrating the Black people here now who are creating history.
There will be brands that have been silent for the past year that will suddenly speak up to sell a product because Blackness is the best marketing. But this year will be different because our eyes are open to the ones that use us for clout instead of being true allies.
For some, this month is used to belittle Black folks by misquoting Black activists and revolutionaries in an attempt to imply that we’re doing too much. Of course, there will be the conservatives and Republicans who
repost out-of-context MLK quotes to say that our protests and calls for change disrupt “unity.” However, those matter little in the grand scheme of things because Black celebration will always make those against us uncomfortable.
This year, we’ll continue to do the work that makes people uncomfortable. We will not contain the celebration to February either. Every month and every day is a reason to celebrate being Black.
This is only the start.