February is Black History Month, a time set aside that recognizes and appreciates all aspects of black history and culture.

According to, the origins of the prideful observance began in the 1920s with the determination of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second black student at Harvard University, and with the fraternity Omega Psi Phi’s creation of Negro History and Literature Week. Woodson chose the month of February to celebrate black history in recognition of Abraham Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12 and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, also to acknowledge the abolitionist Frederick Douglass whose birthday falls on Feb. 14.

Leaders in black history, such as the influential civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr., influential civil rights icon; Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. president, and Jesse Owens, the talented track star have achieved worldwide recognition for their accomplishments. However, Black History Month is more than just a reserved time to reflect on past achievements. The observance focuses on celebration, encouraging African-American historical research and garnering inspiration for culture’s future.

Popular media celebrates Black History Month nation-wide. The entertainment television channel MTV provides coverage and stories of African-American musicians and icons, such as Rosa Parks, throughout the month of February. Black Entertainment Television, better known as BET, offers online articles, video and interviews highlighting significant African-American figures in both entertainment and other mediums.

The CSUSM African-American Faculty and Staff Association (AAFSA) hosts various events to honor Black History Month. The association holds a Black History Trivia contest, in which winners respond to questions throughout February via email and have the opportunity to win gift cards. More information is on the CSUSM website under “News and Events.”

Both active participation with on and off-campus organizations and indulgence in learning about Black History Month on television and on the Internet allows for an appreciation of history and accomplishments.

Many movements, rights and entertainment have changed lives and the course of American history, so Black History Month shouldn’t be overlooked. As time passes, more African-Americans and their talents add to the long list of historically significant events, but as for 2011, those who celebrate black history must embrace the past and present, and express hope for a bright future for African-Americans and their contributions.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California