February is a time of valentines, groundhogs, presidents and ashes. There is something else that occurs in February, however, that goes widely overlooked by the student population: Black History Month. This year, the nationally-recognized observance coincides with the centennial of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), sparking additional celebrations across campus.
To commemorate the centennial, the SHSU History department and the SHSU Chapter of the NAACP will be hosting a series of events beginning today.
“When it comes to the NAACP, I think it’s imperative that students understand the amazing legacy of this organization,” SHSU History professor and coordinator of next week’s events Bernadette Pruitt said.
Black History Month began in 1926 as “Negro History Week”, established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and then evolved into the month-long celebration it is today. He was shocked while studying at Harvard when he found that his history books practically ignored the contributions of the black population, and if they were mentioned, they were shown in a bad light.
The NAACP was founded on Feb. 12, 1909. According to the site, the principle objective of the NAACP is “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States.”
The history department has a week of events planned, beginning Monday with a series of lectures from Artis Rivers (President of the Talented Tenth), Dr. Howard Henderson (SHSU Criminal Justice Department) and Dr. Dwight Watson (Texas State University History Department). Other events during the week include a Movie Night on Wednesday and roundtable discussions on Thursday.
This February also marks another milestone for the NAACP and Black History Month, as the first African-American was sworn into the office of the President of the United States.
“I think [the election of Obama] speaks to this issue of transformation, it speaks to change,” Pruitt said. “It’s imperative that our generation understands the sacrifices of our forefathers and mothers.”