Do you know when Black History Month is? Or why it was created? When it comes to Black History Month facts, many of us are out of the loop.
Well, we wanted answers.
In an open and candid discussion, we asked five Mindvalley employees of the African diaspora what Black History Month meant to them. Their responses were blunt. Their perspectives were versatile. And their stories were captivating.
So, we’re sharing them with our Mindvalley community. As well as with the rest of the world.
But before we dive into the incredible responses from the Mindvalley team, let’s cover a few basic Black History Month facts.
3 Black History Month Facts
Many of us are aware that Black History Month takes place each February. But do you know why it was created? Or when it was officially recognized?
Well, here are 3 Black History Month facts to help you gain a better understanding of this annual celebration.
1. Why was Black History Month created?
Black History Month grew from “Negro History Week,” first established in the United States in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
The week was designed to recognize and teach the history of African Americans in public schools across the United States.
2. When did Black History Month become nationally recognized?
Black History Month was first proposed by educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February of 1969. And the first official celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State in 1970.
A decade later, Black History Month was being celebrated in schools across the nation.
The first American president to officially recognize the celebration was President Gerald Ford during the United States Bicentennial. He encouraged Americans to honor the accomplishments and history of African Americans.
3. Where is Black History Month celebrated?
Is Black History Month celebrated outside the United States? It certainly is.
Black History Month is also recognized by Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.
5 Perspectives On Black History Month From The Mindvalley Tribe
So, now that was have a better understanding of the foundations of Black History Month, let’s hear from a few members of the Mindvalley tribe.
We sat down with five Mindvalley employees and asked them what Black History Month meant to them.
Their responses were captivating.
Is that a thing?
— Tahlia Reynolds
I’ll be honest. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more aware now and more conscious, but when I heard “Black History Month,” I was just like, “Is that a thing? Or is it a thing that you made up for Mindvalley?” But when I think about it more, I’m thinking, “No. I must’ve heard of it before. Surely.” But it didn’t land anywhere, because there’s never been a fertile ground for anything like that to grow in my life. And I’m 31.
When I think about Australia, I think about opportunity. And I know a lot of people say it’s ‘The Land of Opportunity” but actually, we’ve got it pretty good. And I feel quite fortunate and blessed to be born and raised there. When I think about my Black side, especially after we were at the movies seeing Black Panther the other night, you feel this…I don’t know how to say it. It’s not superiority, but you feel strong. You feel very powerful and capable and almost like keepers of the land. And very old. It’s like this ancient stirring that starts to happen, in me anyway. Whatever [problems] are going on in my mind gets diluted and diminished.
I think Black History Month is important.
I think Black History Month is important. Mostly because — at least right now — America is one of the most imperialist countries that we have, so whatever happens in there affects all of us.
Most people who are not Africans — their impression of what a Black person is, is an American Black person. So I think that if there is good representation on a more wholesome and fuller representation of Black characters that are exported either in the media or in books or whatever, [then] I think that’s really important for the rest of us.
In America, we have Black History, as if it’s separate
from regular American history…
— Taylor Mills
In America, we have Black History, as if it’s separate from regular American history. I would reframe it, because to me it’s not Black history. I’ll use this as an example: my Dad’s ancestors were never slaves, but my Dad couldn’t be with [my Mom] if it wasn’t for Juneteenth. So I think calling it Black History makes it seem like it’s only relevant to one group of people, when in reality, it’s not. So the way that I would phrase it, or reframe it is [that] when you’re studying it, to not separate it as “this is the White history” and “this is the Black history” because it’s all very intertwined.
But I would argue that anywhere, let’s say Malaysia… it would be weird [to say]: here’s the Malaysian history, here’s the Chinese history, here’s the Indian history, [and then] you have a separate time when you study each thing. Even though they all do have their own cultures and their own things — as it relates to Malaysia and Malaysian history, they’re all intertwined. So, whether they’re going to Brazil or to Africa, or to America, I don’t think it’s necessary to celebrate the “Black” part that you need to know about. They’re all important things that have happened in the world that help make it what it is. And a lot of it has to do with things that people don’t want to talk about, slavery or just even positive things.
It shouldn’t just be a February thing…
— Kristen Wiggins
I think what’s not being acknowledged enough is that Black History should be talked about not only in Black History Month. It shouldn’t just be a February thing, but we should talk about our history all year long. We should be inserting it more into our history books because it’s missing, at least when I was growing up. And I’m not really sure what the curriculum is like in elementary schools now, but when I was growing up, we didn’t learn a lot about that true history of America.
I feel very free to travel and to experience the world. As a solo Black woman: I’m traveling, I’m booking a ticket and just going by myself. And I know that my ancestors would never even have thought of doing something like that. They wouldn’t have imagined that, so I feel very proud to take advantage of that freedom to just book a flight and go when I want. I am a wanderer, a proud Black woman, a storyteller, a creator, a marketer, a nomad…a little bit of all these things wrapped in one.
We’re all Black, so every month is going
to be Black History Month.
— Emmanuel Opio
I grew up in a family of eight and that’s from my Mom’s side. My Dad had two wives and my stepmom had two children. She passed away unfortunately when I was so little, I don’t remember. About me growing up, I have been kind of privileged to be brought up in a family like that because I learned that you… Well, that there is always a favorite child, and you’re not the only favorite child or you’re not the only child. So you have to be good, you have to abide, you just have to be good, otherwise there’s a next favorite or you could be the next favorite. So you have to outdo yourself all of the time and that really helped me a lot to get to where I am.
We’re all Black, so every month is going to be Black History Month.
Thoughts From The Creators
After talking to five people of African heritage from different nations, we heard five unique life stories, five unique cultural experiences, and five unique perspectives on Black History Month.
But the one thing that we could all agree on by the end of the discussion is that Black History Month isn’t the ideal.
Black achievement can’t be contained in one month, nor can it be disentangled from world history or the achievements of mankind.
And we’re all different threads in this larger tapestry.
But by sharing these stories and celebrating the evolution of Black History Month, we hope that you’ll reflect on how all of our successes, pains, and histories are connected — no matter where you’re from or what you look like.
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So, which of these Black History Month facts and stories interested you most? Share in the comments below.