What is Black History Month and Why Do We Celebrate It?
By Nupur Kudapkar
Black History Month, also known as National African American History Month, is an annual commemoration of African American achievements, recognition of events in the African diaspora, and an opportunity to reflect on their pivotal roles in American history. Many groups, towns, and states around the country are hosting activities to enhance awareness of Black culture and recognize significant Black people who have affected the course of American history. Black History Month began in the United States, however, governments in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom have recognized it as well.
Recognized in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, he said, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” (History).
The second week of February is to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14).
Carter Godwin Woodson witnessed how black people were underrepresented in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history in the early twentieth century while earning a Masters’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard, both in history. Many historians taught the nation’s history in such a way that African Americans were scarcely mentioned—a narrative that Woodson recognized was false. So he and Jesse E. Moorland established the Association for the Study of Black Life and History in 1915. The group would encourage the study of black history as a discipline and honor African Americans’ achievements. Woodson and the ASALH organized a “Black History Week” in 1926 to draw attention to his cause and help educational districts coordinate their efforts.
By Isabella Brady
By Alessandra Kelly
Jazz—the foundation of all modern music around the world. Legends such as Billie Holiday, Art Blakey, Louis Armstrong, and other artists alike remained crucial to the development of music during the twentieth century. Rock n’ roll, R&B, soul, and many other genres are derived from jazz, so any mainstream music since the 1950s is all thanks to jazz.
In the aftermath of slavery, largely black communities existed across the United States with their own heritage and influences. Combining African rhythmic and percussive styles with European forms of harmony and structure, African Americans created musical fusion through the duality of the styles. Additionally, jazz remained unique through the focus on improvisation, allowing for new unprecedented freedom in music.
Due to the tragic events from which jazz was rooted, jazz remained inseparable from the turmoil of African American experiences. Since the genre’s creation, jazz took on a deep cultural and political significance which only increased as the music became more widely accepted and popular. As jazz developed into a political outlet for African Americans, the music began to reach across the racial divide. Not only did jazz become an outlet for black musicians, but the newly blossoming jazz scene offered the best chance of social advancement in a racially prejudiced society.
Thankfully, African American impact continued to influence music, and consequently, in the 1940s, jazz gave birth to rhythm and blues.
Jazz remains a vibrant and living art form, with artists continuing to create relevant music to the present day. However, the legacy of those early musicians lives on in mainstream music, as black jazz artists changed the face of music as we know it.
By Jupiter Polevoi
By Laila Barboza
By Anjali Nayak