Black History Month: A Review of What it is Today
When first established, Black History Month resulted in some controversy. Those who believed that Black History Month was limited to educational institutions questioned whether it was appropriate to confine the celebration of Black history to one month, as opposed to the integration of black history into mainstream education for the whole of the year. Another concern was that contrary to the original inspiration for Black History Month, which was a desire to redress the manner in which American schools failed to represent Black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects, Black History Month could reduce complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of "hero worship".
Other critics refer to the celebration as a form of racism. Actor and director Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized the concept of declaring only one month as Black History Month. Freeman noted, "I don't want a Black history month. Black history is American history."
Since its inception, Black History Month has expanded beyond its initial acceptance in educational establishments. Carter Woodson's organization, now known as, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) designates a theme each year: for example, "Black Health and Wellness" in 2022 focused on medical scholars, health care providers, and health outcomes. In 2018, Instagram created its first-ever Black History Month program with the help of its then Head of Global Music & Youth Culture Communications, SHAVONE. Instagram's Black History Month program featured a series of first-time initiatives, including a #BlackGirlMagic partnership with Spotify and the launch of the #CelebrateBlackCreatives program, which reached more than 19 million followers. By 2020, Black History Month had become a focus beyond schools. The Wall Street Journal describes it as "a time when the culture and contributions of African Americans take center stage" in a variety of cultural institutions including theaters, libraries, and museums. It has also garnered attention from the U.S. business community. In February 2020 Forbes noted that "much of corporate America is commemorating" Black History Month including The Coca-Cola Company, Google, Target Corporation, Macy's, United Parcel Service, and Under Armour.
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Meike Schwarz and the Editorial team at New Mexico's INFLUENCE Magazine