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 more than 40 members and meets each Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. in Lower Waterman. New members are welcome.
The Black Student Union will cap off Black History Month with “The Moon Room,” which is a themed speak-easy to be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, February 26, in Lower Waterman. It will feature a talent show and dance. It’s the first time the Black Student Union has held an event like this.
“It’s going to be an homage to black culture from the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Knight said. “The Black Student Union wanted to come together to pay homage and give thanks to all the black men and women who paved the way for all of us. Since we cannot travel back in time and express our gratitude in person to every individual freedom fighter and innovator, we thought that a love letter in the form of our own talent would be the best way to express our appreciation.”
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.