Black History Month: A Time
for Learning and Growth
American parents and community members visiting schools all over Madison to read an Afro-centric book to students. I’ve always enjoyed going
into schools to share poetry with students.
This year, my Black History Month is jammed full and in response to a teacher who asked me to come and read in her class on a specific
February day that I could not, I asked, “Can I please come and read on one of the other months in the year, when I am still Black too?” I didn’t get
a response. I must conclude that Dr. Woodson certainly blessed this nation by creating an event that has been extended to a month, but like
African American church people say down South, “It is so much, I can’t tell it all!” There is no way that one single month can contain all that we
know to share about African American history and culture.
The year 2026 will mark the 100th Anniversary of Dr. Woodson’s stellar celebration. I hope in the next eight years, we will have important
historical facts about African Americans in Wisconsin, the USA and the world, actually incorporated into the curriculum in our schools. I am still
waiting for African American contributions to Wisconsin, since the 1700’s, to be included and displayed in our state capital. The University of
Wisconsin System is one of the best in the country; wouldn’t it be wonderful if the UW lived up to the Wisconsin Idea by leading the state in the
acquisition, understanding and dissemination of African American history from past to present?
No matter the short 28 days of February, we all have the unique opportunities to learn more about African Americans, who are neighbors,
colleagues at work, students in class, and often your blood-related family members too. If you don’t know the African Americans among us, you
can always take a Justified Anger History Class with Reverend Dr. Alex Gee, enroll in the Madison Wisconsin Institute for Healing of Racism with
recently retired bassist Richard Davis, or enroll in a class taught by Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, a historian in the Department of Afro-American
Studies, UW Madison, who is particularly interested in retrieving the hidden and unexplored histories of African Americans in areas that
historians have not sufficiently examined — small towns and cities in the North and Midwest. These are three, reliable and easily obtained
resources to expand one’s knowledge base, while the main purpose of Black History Month 2018 remains the same; learning the truth about
African American people and history will transform your life for the better.
Black History Month 2018 in Madison is both exhilarating and exhausting. There are so
many wonderful events focusing on African America — the people, the culture, the ideas,
and don’t forget the Soul food we love — all crammed into the shortest month in the year.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, dedicated historian, founded Black History Month in 1926, first as
Negro History Week. He was saddened by the lack of accurate, historical information about
the contributions of African Americans to the USA and to the world, and wanted to focus
the nation’s attention to correct this terrible omission. He chose the month of February
because of two Presidents’ birthdays; George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and their
contributions to this country. (He couldn’t have known that Ronald Reagan, former actor
and 40th President, born 31 years after his death, would also have a February birthday and
do nothing on behalf of African American people).
February contains the wonderful, annual “Read Your Heart Out Day,” in conjunction with
National African American Parent Involvement Day celebrated on February 11. Both
events began about 14 years ago and have enjoyed tremendous success with African