Every February is Black History Month in the United States. This is a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and bring attention to their important role in American history. Negro History Week, named after the “father of black history” Carter G. Woodson was the precursor of Black History Month. It was established in February 1926. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, founded by this historian who contributed to the development of the field of African American Studies, aims to inspire people from all ethnic and social backgrounds to explore the black experience. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the new name for his organization, is now the oldest organization dedicated to advancing the study of African American history.
Why is February Black History Month?
Given that the birthdates of both social reformer Frederick Douglas and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln fall in February, Woodson decided to hold the week-long celebration in his honor. Both men made a substantial contribution to the struggle to abolish slavery. Woodson also recognized that the black community had already commemorated the births of Douglas and Lincoln, and he aimed to continue these customs. According to the ASALH’s website, he was urging the public to deepen their understanding of black history, not to start a new practice.
Since his administration, every American president has acknowledged the significance of Black History Month. But few in the nation started to formally recognize it until Congress enacted “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 with the goal of making all Americans aware of the struggle for fair opportunity and freedom.
Why Do People Commemorate Black History Month?
Black History Month began to educate students and young people about the accomplishments of Black and African American people. These narratives are a neglected aspect of the national story that has mostly been ignored. Today, it is seen as a celebration of those whose activities and accomplishments have had a positive impact not just on the nation but also on the world. People in the U.S. have the chance to connect with Black histories, go beyond issues of racism and slavery, and recognize Black leaders and successes during the month-long spotlight in February.
Theme for Black History Month in 2023
Since 1976, every president of the United States has said that February is Black History Month and supported a certain theme. “Black Resistance” is the 2023 Black History Month theme, which looks at how African Americans have resisted historic and continuous oppression in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since the country’s earliest days. This year’s theme also focuses on how black people have “achieved triumphs, accomplishments, and advances” in the U.S. through their resistance.
This year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” serves as a helpful reminder that the struggle for racial justice and equality is still occurring. The theme also recognizes the ongoing work that must be done as well as the resiliency, perseverance, and bravery of those Black Americans who came before us. It also emphasizes the necessity of supporting and amplifying the voices of those who are still resisting and speaking out against racism and injustice today, as well as the need to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of black thinkers, activists, artists, and leaders who have paved the way for advancement.
Black History in Career And Technical Education (CTE)
During what is now called the “Great Debate,” well-known black figures Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois argued in public about how important vocational education was for the growth of African Americans in the 20th century. Washington claimed that the road to economic mobility and freedom was through vocational education. As an alternative, Dubois claimed that vocational education aimed to put black people in their “proper place” by providing the means for assimilation.
Dubois was sure that Washington did not fully understand the effects of the Industrial Revolution, even though many of the jobs he encouraged black people to get were becoming less important quickly. Dubois was worried that putting a strong emphasis on vocational education would prevent Black Americans from becoming free and emancipated people rather than a servant class to White people.
Unfortunately, the difference in vocational training between black and white communities has made it even harder for black and white people to get the same education and jobs for decades. As a result, Black Americans have historically been excluded from occupations that were seen as having a higher status. Washington and Dubois disagreed on the best course of action, but their fundamental goals were the same: socioeconomic equality and more opportunities for African Americans. There is no need for it to be either/or when deciding whether to seek a more career-focused education or a liberal arts education today. To be successful, individuals in our region need to be well-rounded and equipped with the academic, technical, and 21st-century skills such self-management, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration for success in today’s competitive and changing economy.
Students have often been told over the years that they need at least a four-year degree to have a successful career and a happy life. The truth of well-paying occupations in our economy, however, is that while about 30% do call for a bachelor’s degree or above, roughly 70% simply call for a two-year degree or certificate.
RW2 Career and Technical Education offers short-term education and training to help close the gap between the skills needed for in-demand jobs and the training that is easily available. This gap hurts people, businesses, and the economy. The difficulty is even more obvious regarding gender and race/ethnicity. RW2 Career and Technical Education has an interest in increasing participation among members of historically underserved and underrepresented groups in the technically skilled workforce as the first career and technical school in the US founded and directed by an African-American woman.
RW2 Career and Technical Education is committed to giving everyone the chance to get fair and inclusive career training that provides the knowledge and skills, including resiliency skills for success in life and work.
Be part of our growing RW2 family and sign up now to register!