Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Every year since 1976 we’ve known that February is BHM (Black History Month). And EVERY YEAR since we (well some of us) STILL get offended at the fact we only have a month dedicated to celebrating black culture. Some gripe at the fact black history is celebrated during the shortest month of the year. Or, say stuff like “I’m black every day, I don’t need a month to remind me that.” This year particularly we saw social media outrage from parents in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois communities surrounding NAAPID (National African American Involvement Day). Some feeling that this type of event promotes segregation in our schools or allege that black parents aren’t involved enough.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m black 365 and don’t need a month to dictate my acknowledgment of black accomplishments. However, I will joyously continue to participate in the societal recognition of our history and advancements. Especially since African Americans are responsible establishing many of the events that commemorate our legacy.
Back in 1924 Carter G. Woodson (a black man) initiated the celebration of Negro History Week. This week was dedicated to raising awareness about the developmental impact African Americans had on societal structures throughout the US and the World. It wasn’t until 1976 that this week was extended to be a month long celebration.
Carter G. Woodson, biography.com
During Black History month we also celebrate NAAPID (National African American Parent Involvement Day). Retired educator, Joe Dulin (a black man) created NAAPID in 1995. Now in it’s 25th year, NAAPID is celebrated in 49 states and even some other countries around the world. Dulin was inspired to create NAAPID after going to the Million Man March in 1995. A young speaker challenged the attendees to go back to their communities and “do something”. Dulin thinks that parents are among a school’s most important assets and he has put that idea into action. NAAPID promotes parent involvement in the child’s education to address serious achievement gaps facing African American students.
Joseph Dulin, Mlive.com
This year NAAPID was celebrated on February 10th, fairly close to the start of BHM. We saw a lot of parent posting pictures with their children excited to participate in the day's events. We saw parents informing us of their attendance but making it clear that they are always involved with their children's education. On one end of the spectrum parents made claims that events like this are retrospectively promote segregation. On the other end some parents and educators alike mentioned there was participation from various cultures. Then, just like that, after NAAPID came and went social media quieted conversations about BHM.
With such a promising foundation, it is disappointing to see that my generation, the first to have both this nationally recognized day and month, as parents get offended by its observance. A generation, who jokingly talks about their parents showing up in a raggedy housecoat and rollers only when they needed to be disciplined at school; a generation just now beginning to educate themselves on our history outside of Martin, Rosa, and Carver and his peanut has dismissed this day and month as if we don’t need it. Aside from the involvement part, the most impressive notion is that this is NATIONALLY recognized. Which means this is a group effort; an opportunity for us to stand up and show up for ALL of the children in the community.
I challenge you all, especially Champaign, to do it big next year! If you aren’t pleased with the representation of BHM, NAAPID or events throughout your community or schools get involved. Find out who is responsible for hosting these events. Volunteer to assist on planning committees OR offer feedback and/or suggestions. Don’t resort to assuming that someone else will do it. Do something! Lastly, let continue to educate ourselves and our children on our history and culture. Don't let BHM and the educational system be the only sources of cultural acknowledgement.