Black Student Union leads TuHS recognition of Black History Month


Photo by Margaret Graham.

Naasei Lynn, Staff Writer

The United States has had a long and troubled history revolving around race, with racism itself almost being interwoven with the Constitution. Our nation’s Founding Fathers, those who vowed that “All men are created equal,” were slave owners themselves. 17 of the 55 delegates who signed the Declaration owned a total of 1,400 slaves, and 8 out of the 12 first U.S. Presidents also owned slaves. 

To say the least, the U.S. has had serious ground to make up regarding its treatment of African Americans from the nation’s inception. Changes as a result of combating institutionalized racism within the U.S. have been far and wide, but there has been a specific and consistent effort to recognize the progress and history of Black people in the United States. This effort culminated in the creation of Black History Month, a month to celebrate Black history and important figures in the Black community.

In 1926, African-American historian Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week”  in the second week of February in commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays. Both of these figures were celebrated by the Black community prior to the creation of Negro History Week, but this week was also meant teach others about the traditions and history of the Black community. Official literature was passed out in schools, churches, and written in newspapers in relation to the event. Negro History Week grew in popularity as more and more states began to recognize the troublesome past of African Americans in the United States.

The rapid success in implementation of Negro History Week inspired Black educators and students at Kent State University to propose “Black History Month” in February of 1969. This movement grew across several college campuses, and within seven years, Black History Month was being celebrated by educational institutions, community centers and, most importantly, the U.S. government. 

“It’s about celebrating how far we’ve come and celebrating Black excellence,” Elizabeth Graham, 16, stated. 

As a student at Tualatin High School, Graham has seen how Black History Month has been adapted in school environments. She mentioned how Tualatin’s Black Student Union had an individual segment on the weekly announcements and banners in the school that displayed important Black figures.

Tualatin is not the only group in the Tigard-Tualatin School District that has made an effort to celebrate Black History Month. The School Board recently passed Resolution 2223-12, encouraging staff and community members to engage in Black History Month activities. These efforts have also resonated with the general student population.

“Black History Month to me is honoring the people who have come before me, and celebrating their huge accomplishments,” Graham said. 

Black History Month acts as not just a time to remember key figures in Black history, but recognize the progress and accomplishments of the Black community in the United States.