FEBRUARY across the world is recognised as Black History Month. A time for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Its observance started as early as 1926, when historian Carter G Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History declared the second week of February as 'Negro History Week'.
However, it wasn't until 1987 that the United Kingdom first celebrated Black History Month; 1995 that Canada's House of Commons officially recognised the observance; and 2008 that Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the US Senate officially recognise Black History Month.
There are many critics of the observance of the month, including actor Morgan Freeman, who has been quoted as saying, "I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history."
In Jamaica, it is said that during the month, a majority of the features and movies shown are more related to Black American history than Jamaican history, bringing into question the significance, if any exists, that it has to our society.
Do you think that Black History Month is still relevant?
Black History is relevant to those who are willing to recognise its relevance. It is significant to black people and should be constantly recognised and reminded for those, who express their interest, which in my opinion, should be every Jamaican.
— Deron Douglas
Yes, Black History Month is still relevant. It gives me an appreciation of what our forefathers achieved to put us where we are now. It is important that we know where we are coming from in order to create a path for the future. For example, Dr Martin Luther King lobbied for the rights of blacks seeking for black American equality and upward mobility. Years later, Barack Obama, a black man, becomes the president of the Unites States of America by the path paved for him years earlier by Dr King.
— Courtnay Patterson
Yes, it is. It serves as a reminder to all black peoples, black by race and not necessarily colour, that we didn't get to this point of freedom by mere coincidence. Our ancestors fought hard for future generations of blacks to be seen as equal to other race. So I think it is very important to celebrate Black History Month, for these are things we really shouldn't take for granted or forget.
— Khamoye Williams
It's still relevant to me because it shows that our accomplishments and achievements as a race are being acknowledged and appreciated.
— Javaughn Thorpe
Black History Month is significant to society as there is a transmission of the history of the black movement in Jamaica. At all levels of society people can appreciate what our black predecessors have done for the progression of our nation so far. During Black History Month a lot of our cultural heritage resurfaces and is stirred up in the youth through culture days, television and radio broadcasts and ensures cultural retention. We can always be appreciative of what Black History Month really means to us as Jamaicans, and therefore it is of great relevance.
— Stephen Campbell
The evidence is quite obvious that it is still relevant. We have fallen short of the whole concept of why we are black people, a unique race and somehow have fallen into foreign customs which goes against our culture and rite of passage. The relevance shouldn't even be questioned, because of the danger of it being changed by the present and future generations.
— Shavar Sewell
I do think Black History Month is relevant because it ensures that we never forget our roots. It is a time when we as a people can reflect on our past and celebrate the fact that we have come a long way and we are progressing more and more each day. We can hold our heads up high because our ancestors fought for their rights and it's because of their actions that we are able to be who we are as Jamaicans. Their actions have shaped our culture and our identities, and we need to pay homage to them.
— Kimberley Ferguson
Yes, Black History Month is still relevant, particularly because of the great need to educate upcoming generations about Jamaica's history, and the inspirational leaders who came before us. It is important to commemorate heroes, such as Marcus Garvey, and others who paved the way for Blacks, here and abroad, and aided and ameliorated the conditions of those who suffered for our betterment.
— Stephanie Sewell
Yes, of course, it is relevant. We are a broken people and revisiting our past is very important. No matter how far one branch might be from the other, they share the same roots.
— Bruce Walker
Yes, I think it is still relevant, although I don't think the necessary emphasis is being placed on it anymore. However, it is relevant for us to remember the struggles of our forefathers and what they had to go through in order for us to have equality and be in the position that we are in today.
— Rochelle Graham
Of course, Black History Month is still relevant especially in these days. Many young people have lost sight of their heritage and insight of what those who have gone before us had to overcome. One's history is important, as people without a foundation and who lack knowledge of their history have no future.
— Ashlé Bryan
Black History Month is still relevant. Each day a child is born and they should grow up learning about where their culture came from and what the 'coloured' people had to face. Black History Month is a way of teaching the youths of our nation about their ancestors. It also highlights the struggles they went through so that we can enjoy the lifestyle we have adopted now. So, yes Black History Month is relevant, and much more emphasis should be placed on it.
— O'Neil Grant
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