Black History Month originated in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. It is important to note that whilst this tradition began in America, there exists not a single history for all black people but rather multiple histories. Those who are descendants of slaves share a similar history, yet the history of those who were never enslaved differ, sometimes drastically. Despite those differences, history is history, and history is important.
Why is Black History important?
Black History Month creates the perfect opportunity for us to understand black histories, spotlight black achievements and learn from the mistakes of the past. As philosopher George Santayana said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it’. Black History Month also encourages us to draw inspiration from the past so that we may more creatively re-imagine the possibilities that lie ahead. Like Carter G. Woodson suggested, ‘Those who have no record of what their forebearers have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history’.
As we celebrate Black History Month 2022, remember the scriptures are a perfect pattern, often highlighting the importance of history, reminding us in Isiash 46:9 to ‘remember the former things of old’. Similarly, in Hebrews 11:3, we are urged to ‘remember the days of the old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you’. Throughout the scriptures the Lord invites us, his people, to examine our history and glean from the examples demonstrating his love. It also encourages us to continue serving him whilst highlighting the pitfalls of sin.