‘We just want equity and equality and appreciation’: The history behind Black History Month

A look at the history behind Black History Month
A look at the history behind Black History Month

DETROIT – February is Black History Month -- a time dedicated to celebrating the achievements of African Americans in U.S. history.

“Some people say to me, ‘Well, why Black History Month?’ Well, we just want equity and equality and appreciation,” Detroit historian Ken Coleman said. ”Black folk have played a significant role in what we call today, the United States of America.”

READ: More Black History Month coverage

Daniel Hirschman is a sociology professor at Brown University.

“There’s no White history month because most white history is taught, or a version of white history -- so you see white people in statues, and books and textbooks,” Hirschman said.

“White history month in America is everyday,” Coleman said. “White folks control the institutions ... They control the narrative.”

Many would argue that the narrative leaves many Black individuals’ stories untold or unacknowledged -- especially when it comes to Black people being the aggressors. One example is the 1943 race riots in Detroit.

“The stories of the 1960′s riots were everywhere and sort of persuasive. A lot of people I knew had lived through them. But the stories of the 1940′s riots weren’t. And those were a very different situation,” Hirschman said. “In 1943, was very common across the country. You get the type of violence of mostly White people striking out at and destroying white property and Black lives and that’s kind of a recurrent theme from American history from the moment of the end of slavery. And, so, I think that history is not taught very well.”

Watch the video above for the full report.

About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.