Black History Month During the month of February, WES and its staff is honored to celebrate Black History Month, both in the classroom and as a school community. The District has invested time and resources to a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work as a WES community.
Throughout the month of February, teachers and grade levels will be diving into lessons and activities that explore the history, experiences, and accomplishments of the Black community and celebrate the diversity of the human experience. The work is ongoing and will be constantly addressed to further broaden the depth and learning experience.
Please view HERE for a snapshot of some of the experiences going on in classrooms over the month of February.
February marks the start of Black History Month, a federally recognized celebration of the contributions African Americans have made to this country and a time to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice. Black History Month has become one of the most celebrated cultural heritage months on the calendar.
Who started Black History Month?
Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” developed Black History Month. Woodson, whose parents were enslaved, was an author, historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.
He recognized that the American education system offered very little information about the accomplishments of African Americans and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 1926, Woodson proposed a national “Negro History Week," which was intended to showcase everything students learned about Black history throughout the school year, King said.
It wasn't until 1976, during the height of the civil rights movement, that President Gerald Ford expanded the week into Black History Month.
Why is Black History Month in February? Woodson chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a famed abolitionist who escaped from slavery, and President Abraham Lincoln, who formally abolished slavery.
Feb. 1 is National Freedom Day, the anniversary of the approval of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865. Richard Wright, who was enslaved and became a civil rights advocate and author, lobbied for the celebration of the day, CNN reported, citing the National Constitution Center.
Woodson believed it was essential for young African Americans to understand and be proud of their heritage. “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history," he said.
Before the country can move past racial harm, there needs to be “truth, then accountability and then maybe reconciliation," said Dionne Grayman, who trains schools to have difficult conversations about race.
Failing to understand the history of race and racism and a strong desire to overlook the worst aspects of racist violence in the United States has fueled resentment toward civil rights activism, said Dan Hirschman, an assistant professor of sociology at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Here's how to celebrate Black History Month
The theme of Black History Month 2021 is "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity," chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Celebrate Black History Month with PBS:
Black History Month is here and PBS is thrilled to share a host of documentaries and digital shorts that highlight the richness of the Black experience in American history. Here are previews of films premiering this month on PBS, as well as a dozen films you can stream to celebrate Black history: https://www.pbs.org/articles/2021/02/celebrate-black-history-month-2021/