Initially created with the intent of only lasting one week, Black History Month began in 1926 as “Negro History Week.”
The celebratory week was created by Carter G. Woodson, a well-known African American historian, educator, publisher and scholar. The reason for this celebration is to honor all of the African Americans who contributed to the history of the United States. In 1976, the week became a month-long celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
“Our purpose, our mission is to make sure that there is clarity and awareness around where we are regarding the African American experience,” said Majorie Fuller, the director of WVU’s Center for Black Culture and Research. “And promoting and understanding that the African American experience is the American experience and it affects all of us.”
The Center for Black Culture and Research is one of the largest contributors to Black History Month on campus.
Fuller outlined some of the goals the CBC&R strives to achieve through its work, as well as the racial issues that occurred recently and her thoughts on where to go from here.
“There’s been a new illumination on why we actually need to study black history, why we need to discuss race relations and that the problem around race relations is not something that we have already resolved,” Fuller said. “It's an ongoing problem that we need to continue to look at, and it’s something that we need to acknowledge that we all have a responsibility to deal with.”
Fuller then said why it is essential to celebrate Black History Month.
“Our schools do not teach Black history in any kind of an ongoing way; there needed to be more time to talk about the true history of Black people in this country,” Fuller said. “I feel that there needs to be more of an opportunity for our youngsters to learn about their history because it is all of our history as a whole.”
Fuller believes WVU has celebrated Black History Month well through events on campus.
“I genuinely feel, at least with my office and the programming and initiatives that we’ve put forth for Black History Month, that the University has been very supportive and very engaged,” she said.
Fuller said her job is never done because there is always more you can do to educate people.
“I can’t ever say that I think we do enough; I always think that there is more that we can do,” Fuller said. “If I were to say in what area that I think we’d like to see more done, it would be in the area of education around Black history and Black culture.”
The pandemic has altered some events and programs for the CBC&R, so it has had to find innovative ways to continue to spread its message. Fuller stressed that while it has been a challenge to adjust, it has definitely made them more flexible.
The CBC&R will be bringing in author and activist Charlene Caruthers on Feb. 23 for an event at its facility, which can be found on its website.