February is Black History Month, and the first Black History Month took place at Kent State University in 1970 after Black educators and the Black United Students proposed a way to honor and highlight the African diaspora’s shared history.
Six years after the first celebration at Kent State, Black History Month was being celebrated all across our country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small. When President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976, during the celebration of the US Bicentennial, he urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.
In the Black community, Black History Month was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of Black history clubs, with an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Today, it was a nationwide event with college majors dedicated entirely to the study of Black History. Taught in schools of all demographics across our nation, names like Fredrick Douglas and Harriet Tubman have become just as synonymous with American history as figures like George Washington and John Adams.
While we have a way to go for true equality in America, we can start by learning our shared history, as Black History is just as much American History as the stories of our white founding fathers. To learn a bit more about Black History, this month and every month of year, check out this local educational resource near your apartment.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture – In September 2016, the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors a short walk away from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – both are just just 20 minutes away from your RESA apartment. This eight-story building, with a stunning exterior that features a three-tiered, bronze-colored screen, focuses solely on African American life, art, history and culture, covering artifacts from the African Diaspora to the present day.
Admission to the museum is free, but has been in extremely high demand since the facility opened its doors and timed passes are required on certain days.
National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560