Dear HMS Families,
It was in 1964 when the author James Baldwin reflected on the shortcomings of his education. “When I was going to school,” he said, “I began to be bugged by the teaching of American history because it seemed that that history had been taught without cognizance of my presence.”
Baldwin’s thoughts echoed those of many before and after him. Half a century earlier, when Carter G. Woodson had the same frustration, he set the foundation for what would become today’s national Black History Month, observed each February.
In the early 20th century, while he earned a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard, both in history, Woodson witnessed how black people were underrepresented in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history. According to the way many historians taught the nation’s past, African Americans were barely part of the story—a narrative that Woodson knew was not true.
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” Woodson said of the need for such study.
In 1926, Woodson launched a “Negro History Week” to bring attention to his mission and help school systems coordinate their focus on the topic.
The celebrations and studies spread quickly, driving demand for teaching materials and spurring the formation of black history clubs. But, though a newfound understanding of black culture and literature was spreading amongst the middle class, the idea of expanding the week to a month did not come until President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance in 1976.
“In celebrating Black History Month,” Ford said in his message, “we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Presidents have issued national decrees with each year’s theme since the 1970s. African American History Month’s 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” which explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.
February will wrap up the 3rd 8 weeks grading period and another winter sports season. We want to wish all of our student-athletes the best of luck as they enter their final tournaments. The coaches' remarks will be included in the March Newsletter.
If I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach me by phone at Harding Middle School, (740) 282-3481.
Principal Bryan Mills