Ted Johnson wrote for Time on how Black History Month’s foundation as a political act is being lost:
Since its inception, Black History Month has never been just a celebration of black America’s achievements and stories — it’s part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens. Yet lost amid today’s facile depictions of Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad or George Washington Carver’s peanuts is black America’s claim as co-authors of U.S. history, a petition the nation has never accepted.
This was the aim of Carter G. Woodson, a black historian and originator of Negro History Week in 1926. He believed that appreciating a people’s history was a prerequisite to equality. He wrote of the commemoration, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world.” That is, no amount of legislation can grant you equality if a nation doesn’t value you.