“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
IDEA Public Schools is proud to join our nation in honoring Black History Month throughout the month of February! Also known as National African American History Month, this annual celebration commemorates the contributions and achievements by Black Americans and serves as a time for recognizing the pivotal role of African Americans in the story of the United States of America.
Founded by historian Carter G. Woodson, Negro History Week was first celebrated on February 12, 1926 to commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent. The date coincides with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. By the late 1960s, through the civil rights movement and growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month during the U.S. bicentennial, expanding Negro History Week into a month-long celebration. He called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Since then, U.S. presidents have designated February as Black History Month each year.
At IDEA Public Schools, we believe that providing all children with a quality education, regardless of their race, skin color, economic status or gender, is essential to a more equal America. As the opportunity gap remains starkly wide in our country, the importance of a college degree has never been more important. We remain rooted in our mission to serve our community through education and college preparation, particularly traditionally underserved communities and communities of color.
As an organization whose philosophy is a great education for all children—we champion this month as an additional opportunity to educate our students about the struggles and triumphs of African American history and the work ahead of us as a nation to achieve educational and racial equality. We join the nation in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship and be recognized as full citizens in American society.
We also recognize that even today, the wounds of our nation’s history are still very fresh. 2020 brought national civil unrest and protests and riots against systemic racism and police violence toward Black people. A global pandemic forced an almost year-long economic downturn that still disproportionately affects African American communities. Even still, we remain hopeful – rooted in the fact that our scholars can change the world.
By educating, empowering and encouraging our young people – teaching them about a history we should never repeat – we are all working together toward progress and the hope of a better tomorrow. Despite the hardships of the past year, our nation recently inaugurated its first woman, first woman of color (who identifies as Black), and the first South Asian American and daughter of immigrants as Vice President.
As we kick off this important time, campuses across our regions are teaching lessons and holding events in honor of Black History Month. Be sure to check out IDEA’s social media channels as we document the amazing happenings taking place across our campuses to educate, celebrate, and reflect upon Black history.
Read more about the history and celebration of Black History Month, find resources for teachers or to celebrate at home and more at africanamericanhistorymonth.gov. You can also check out this incredible list of influential Black Americans who shook up the world!