Wednesday marked the beginning of Black History Month, a time when the sacrifices and contributions of black Americans throughout history are honored in schools and by the media.
Throughout the month, Midtown Patch will highlight some of the area’s Black History Month events, such as the performance run of "Ruth and the Green Book" at the , Feb. 7-16.
Recommended for ages 9 and up, the production is adapted from Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s book of the same title that chronicles a relatively unknown chapter in Civil Rights history. It follows an African American family as they travel from Chicago to Alabama in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s. After being turned away from hotels, gas stations and restaurants, 8-year-old Ruth and her parents are introduced to "The Green Book," a travel guide for black motorists conceived as a response to the humiliation and violence experienced by African Americans while traveling.
Is Black History Month relevant in 2012?
Black History Month got its start as Negro History Week in 1926 when an educator named Carter G. Woodson set out to recognize black history’s important role in the American story. Fifty years later, Negro History Week became Black History Month.
But now, more than 85 years after the first celebration of black history, some critics argue that Black History Month is no longer relevant. On her Huffington Post blog, Akilah Bolden-Monifa called it a “farce” and argued that advertisers and book publishers have commercialized the celebration to boost sales of everything from books to liquor.
“Black History Month has become a ready-made excuse to ignore African-American history and contributions for the other 11 months of the year,” Bolden-Monifa said. “It's little more than a bone to throw to us.”
Black History Month is richly celebrated in Atlanta at contests, galas and film festivals, but would Woodson recognize the 2012 celebration of black history? Or has his goal of recognizing black contributions to history been elevated to a reminder that racism and prejudice should have no place in today’s America?