Black History Month

Celebrations Both Domestically and Internationally


Irish Museum of Modern Art

Image promoting a event that celebrated black excellence

In the U.S., Black History Month is a nationally celebrated holiday, but most overlook is how other countries celebrate too. The month is celebrated in remembrance of the oppression faced by black people and in recognition of past/future accomplishments of the black community. In the U.S., Black History Month is celebrated in February. This is because the second week aligns with the birthdays of both Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. They were both pivotal figures in the end of slavery and the freedom of blacks in America. The month has been celebrated as a national holiday for 47 years. While most traditions are kept the same, small aspects like the themes, 2023’s being Black Resistance, are subject to change. Many Americans know how the month is celebrated domestically, but to improve our traditions, it’s key to look at how people celebrate internationally.

In many countries, the theme is a key element to focus on. Canada’s theme is ‘Ours to Tell,’ which focuses on the government figure Lincoln Alexander. He was the first black member of parliament in the House of Commons, Federal Cabinet Minister, Chair of the Workman’s Compensation Board Ontario, and he held positions such as Chancellor and Governor. He advocated for racial equality and social justice along with his firsts in the government world. He has been set as the focal person because of his actions and inspiration for Canadians. This is the 28th annual celebration, with a new focus highlighting different parts of black excellence each year. Canada as a whole tries to progress in Alexander’s words: “It is not your duty to be average. It is your duty to set a higher example for others to follow.”

In Ireland, the theme is “Celebrating Black Excellence.” Created by the Institute of Antiracism Black Studies, the theme is meant to highlight the groups around Ireland, showcasing their importance and accomplishments over time. Differing a bit in their celebratory practices is the United Kingdom. They celebrate Black History Month on the opposite end of the calendar. The UK has celebrated in October since 1987. In Africa, during October, the chiefs of different tribes would gather to settle their differences. As an ode to these African roots, the UK celebrates during this time. With inspiration from the US, the UK’s month has a similar goal. The main difference is the reason for the celebration. The differences are the varying past experiences in each country.

Many students in our area do not have proper education regarding Black History Month. The month is brought up in some classes and clubs in Pennridge more than others. Talking to history teacher Angela Schoettle, we got a teacher’s perspective on the subject. When asked about Pennridge’s initiative with Black History Month, she said, “Teaching black history should be more than one day or one month.” She said there had been recent improvements but not enough to make a significant change. She believes that more education is needed for all students, some of that through the perspective of other students. She is a proud supporter of clubs, such as the Minority Inclusive Club, which could be a great educational resource for students. Schoettle starts her second semester, A People’s History course with Black History Month. It falls perfectly in time with the month and gives her an excellent opportunity to help educate her students. She talks about the background and history but also speaks about the present aspects. For example, the themes.

Pennnridge senior Sophia Lowery had expressed similar views as Schoettle. Lowery also feels that there is not enough education overall for Black History Month. She said, “The bare minimum is for the administration to talk about it.” Like Schoettle, she feels that the month is not talked about enough as a district. She stated that representation is sometimes seen online, but the meaning and in-person education is different for varying situations. She also stressed the importance of our district taking action if racist actions/statements are seen/heard, which is a common viewpoint from many students. When it comes down to it, Pennridge students and staff would like to see more education. Whether that be history, worldwide happenings, international celebrations, or more; it is clear to see that Pennride could be doing more.

This month, though drawing to an end, is so important to many people around the globe. The remembrance and progression made are the essential parts that make the month so special. By hearing out those around the district and taking influence from others, we can make the improvements people are looking for.