The Importance of Black History Month

Naomi Rainey Pierson, President, Long Beach Branch NAACP

Black history is integral to the fabric of America’s true history. However, the contributions of Black Americans have consistently been erased from our educational system. Instead, the educational curriculum revolves around a white narrative and depiction of past historical events, and fails to recognize the pivotal role Black Americans have played. Therefore, the celebration of Black History Month during February is an important time that calls attention to Black people and achievement. This month recognizes the central role Black Americans play and highlights their scientific, educational, and cultural accomplishments. The development and growth of this nation is contingent on the involvement and participation of Black Americans in our democracy, and it is important that we honor, acknowledge, and call wider visibility to this fact during Black History Month.

We celebrate Black History Month throughout the U.S. as a result of the work accomplished by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who has become known as the “Father of Black History.” Woodson dedicated his life to studying and educating people on Black achievements and heritage in order to achieve racial equality. We applaud his dedication and work that elevated the representation of Black history and excellence. Nonetheless, his mission still carries on. In order for Black history to be truly inclusive in our studies, we cannot confine representation to a single month. Black history needs to be integrated into our education system and taught year-round alongside the current history curriculum. This February in particular focuses its theme on “Black Health and Wellness.” Our current system of Western medicine contains the legacy of Black scholars, medical practitioners, and others in the realm of promoting wellness. Not only have Black individuals made scientific and medical strides pertaining to various areas of health, but they have also participated in self-determined actions to promote wellbeing. Through mutual aid and social support initiatives, the Black community has built hospitals, medical and nursing schools, as well as community clinics. They have also made strides in medical and scientific procedures. Their work calls for more representation in medical and health programs, while seeking to decrease disparities in our practicing system.

History is not inclusive if it does not encompass the existence of all racial groups whose contributions were essential in developing our country. Our education system needs to expand its education curriculum to reflect an accurate and true history—one that involves representation, equality, and justice towards all racial groups.