For more than 40 years, February has officially been Black History Month, and DeSean Knight, president of Schoolcraft College’s Black Student Union, hopes everyone celebrates.
“For me, Black History Month is a combination of understanding black culture and understanding all we brought to America,” he said. “Black history is something that’s underreported, so I see Black History Month as a way to embrace all we have done.”
Knight is a first-year student from Detroit studying marketing and business management. He was recently named president after being active in the Black Student Union his first semester. The BSU has 30 members and meets each Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. in Lower Waterman. New members are welcome.
The big event the Black Student Union has planned to cap off Black History Month is a “Speakeasy” to be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, February 26, in Lower Waterman.
“It’s going to be an homage to black culture from the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Knight said.
Here are some additional facts about Black History Month:
- The presidential designation of February as Black History Month dates to 1976, which was the nation’s bicentennial. In his speech officially recognizing Black History Month, President Gerald Ford 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.”
- The origins of Black History Month date to September 1915. That’s when Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This organization was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
- Today this group is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, this organization sponsored a national Negro History week, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
- This year’s Black History Month theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” honors the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920), which gave women the right to vote, and the sesquicentennial (150 years) of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870), which gave black men the right to vote.