This February marks the 95th year of the official celebration of Black History Month, a month set aside to acknowledge and honor the work of generations of African Americans who have made a mark on history, and forever changed the American cultural landscape.
Here in HISD, schools across the district celebrate the month with a wide variety of programs and curriculum that help educate students on the impact of Black Americans, both today and throughout our history.
“Teaching our students the history of African Americans in this country is essential to a well-rounded education,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said. “We hope that everyone reflects on the people who have indelibly shaped our world and changed the course of history.”
The event was first celebrated in February 1926 for just a week, chosen specifically to include the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two pioneers in the plight of African Americans.
The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Black history clubs popped up all over the nation, schools utilized the new resources to educate students, and people from all over endorsed the effort. By the time the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964, Black History Month had become a central and vital part of African American life.
A decade later, in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” So, 50 years after the first effort, the celebration of Black history was extended to a full month.
Since then each American president has issued official proclamations every February to mark Black History Month.
“Even though February is set aside as Black History Month, we hope that our students and teachers learn about the contributions of African Americans throughout the year,” Lathan said. “Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and we hope that our students are able to learn about the full diversity of their home.”