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What is Black History Month and Why Do we Celebrate it?

Posted on: 05/10/2021

Black History Month is an annual celebration of Black history and heritage. It allows communities to come together and celebrate the culture, achievements, and contributions of black people around the world. It is also an important time to reflect on the prejudices in society and stand up for equality. This year’s theme is ‘Proud To Be’; everyone deserves the right to be proud of who they are. The Proud To Be campaign aims to express the importance of being proud of your identity and will highlight the voices of the black community as we celebrate and educate ourselves on black history.

But why do we celebrate Black History month? If we lived in an ideal world, one where racial divide no longer restricted our society, then black history wouldn’t be confined to just one month. Instead it would be celebrated all year long, taught to the same depths as white history and no longer needed to be specifically named. But this isn’t the case. And it is for that reason that Black History month exists. Black History month provides an enriching opportunity to discover untold and sadly forgotten black history and the huge impact it had back then as well as the relevance it bears now. It gives everyone the chance to celebrate the incredible achievements of black communities which have been swept under the rug for centuries.

So who is it that we celebrate Black History month for? It’s for people like Phillis Wheatley Peters. Phillis was born in West Africa in 1753 and was later sold as a slave to an American family in Boston at the age of 7 or 8. While working as a slave in America, Phillis learnt to read and write, and upon observing her talent for poetry, her employers encouraged her to pursue her arts. Subsequently, she became the author of a published book of poetry, depicting her life and the profound impact slavery had on her. Phillis once wrote, “The world is a severe schoolmaster, for its frowns are less dangerous, than its smiles and flatteries, and its difficult task to keep on the path of wisdom”. Its poems like hers, drowned out by names like Wilfred Owen and Wordsworth that we celebrate during this month. Its stories like hers we should all delve deeper into.

Black History Month shouldn’t just be something that comes and goes from our minds and media in a month. Black lives, culture, and achievements should be valued and upheld day in day out all year round. This year help us to take a step towards equality as we educate ourselves on history that should not be forgotten.

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