For such a short month, February seems to be packed with more events than most of the rest of the months of the year. There’s Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day—merging Abe Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays—and Black History which is celebrated over all 28 days (or 29 in leap year) of the month. Apropos of that, this year’s Super Bowl LVII was the first to see two Black quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles, go head-to-head in the exciting final NFL game of the season. In the final seconds of the game Kansas City kicked a field goal winning with 38 to 35 points.
A little background on the history of Black History Month: In the early part of the twentieth century historian Carter G. Woodson, became convinced that African American history and the history of other cultures was being ignored or misrepresented among scholars, and he saw a need for research into the neglected past of African Americans. Woodson’s life was devoted to historical research, and he worked to preserve the history of African Americans. In the 1920s Mr. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate and celebrate the contributions people of African descent made to our country. The first celebration occurred on February 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.
Carter Woodson believed strongly in the importance of educating people about their history, about how to think for themselves and to take pride in their people’s contributions as an encouragement to taking charge of their own lives. He once wrote: “If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”
At one educational event for Black History Month here in Fort Wayne, Trustee Austin Knox and other Black alumni of Concordia High School appeared on a panel of “Living Legacies,” African-American students whose parents attended Concordia and then chose to send their children there as well. This annual program is sponsored by the Black Lutheran Alumni Scholarship Team, and its purpose is to present recognizable community Black leaders to up-and-coming students, letting them know that opportunities exist to step into leadership roles themselves.
So, celebrate this short but eventful month of February and enjoy all the events it has to offer.