Black History Month has recently come under fire on social media outlets. People like actress Stacey Dash have spoken out against Black History Month, claiming that if people want to be truly equal then the month should not exist. She also believes that BET Awards and TV shows that only have black members on their cast lead to more inequality. However, it is this sort of attitude and recent outcries such as the #oscarssowhite, a hashtag lashing out at the lack of black nominees in major Oscar categories, that only prove how necessary Black History Month is.
Prominent members of society have spoken out against racial inequities and poor representation. Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee, and many others have voiced their complaints about a lack of representation in media and awards. Their new presence demanding equality might remind some people of figures of the past. Names like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X remind people of a time where social injustice was rich and the only black people found in media were white people wearing blackface. Of course, many of the problems then have been solved and people are treated much more fairly, regardless of the color of their skin. However, with issues such as the Ferguson shooting and lack of representation still around, Black History Month has only gained importance.
While social media allows for people to learn about all the current problems and trending hashtags, history is not talked about much outside of school. Teachers are responsible for telling students about important people in history; however, there are many people who contributed to society that schools fail to mention, and the only real time that students learn about these people is through Black History Month. For example, people rarely hear about Percy Julian’s contributions to the research and development of synthetic compounds. His research and the strides he made in scientific developments are still very important to modern day health care. In addition things like refrigerators, elevator doors, gas masks, and even potato chips wouldn’t exist without relatively unknown people like John Standard, Alexander Miles, Garrett Morgan, and George Crum, all people that wouldn’t get any recognition without Black History month.
Many people in history like those listed above have made extremely important contributions to society, but their successes are typically not recognized outside of the month of February. Issues today such as #ocsarssowhite and the struggle to prove that black lives matter continue to prove the need for a month that exclusively focuses on the contributions of black people to society.