In this Blog, I will explain the 4 points listed below to address Black History Month and the past as well as ongoing challenges of Black Americans. I will then relate the importance of Black History Month to the everyday struggles of athletes. To gain achievements in sports, obstacles and challenges are endured.
- What is Black History Month?
- Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?
- How does Black History Month Impact Sports and Athletes?
- Overcoming Challenges in Life and Sports
What is Black History Month?
The month of February is “Black History Month.” This tradition of “Black History Month” (also known as African American History Month) began in 1915.1 The month of February has been specifically designated as Black History Month to celebrate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.1 The African American population in the United States were forcibly brought to America to be slaves. Freedom was gained with the help of President Abraham Lincoln through a Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment.1 However, freedom arrived with a high price of bias, prejudice, and segregation. In 1976, President Gerald Ford provided an official recognition of Black History Month.1
Why is it important to Celebrate Black History Month?
Think about the recent struggles you have been enduring with the pandemic. You have experienced a lockdown, mask-wearing, a reduction of in-person social interactions, and the difficulties of being able to attend school. Consider the challenges you and society have been working hard to overcome over the past 10 months. Now consider how hard Black Americans in this country have been working to overcome an enormous number of obstacles such as the Jim Crow Laws which were in effect from after the Civil War ended until 1968 (about 100 years).2 Did they give up and feel there was nothing they could do about it? No, instead strong people who become activists took a stand, such as Ida B. Wells who refused to leave a train that was only for white people.2 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped lead the way to overcome these obstacles with the initiation of the Civil Rights movement. However, when one accomplishment is made, a new challenge arises. More recently, there have been protests over police brutality. To address this issue, the Black Lives Matter movement arose.
How does Black History Month Impact Sports and Athletes?
Keep in mind that Black Americans continue to stay strong and rise-up to each challenge that befalls them. This is what athletes must also accomplish if they are to grow in their sport. Arising to each challenge builds character and strengthens your abilities to gain future success. A few male American athletes to consider being honored during Black History Month include Jackie Robinson (baseball), Muhammad Ali (boxing), Michael Jordan (basketball), Tiger Woods (golf), and Kobe Bryant (basketball). Some female American athletes to consider being honored during Black History Month include Simone Biles (gymnastics), Gabby Douglas (gymnastics), Serena and Venus Williams (tennis), Jackie Joyner-Kersee “Flo-Jo” (track and field), Debi Thomas (figure skating), and Lynette Woodward (basketball). At CAL Sports Academy, honoring great sports legends during Black History Month helps our athletes understand the important sport contributions that Black Americans have made over the years.
Overcoming Challenges in Life and Sports
Frederick Douglass stated, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” He is known for escaping slavery and becoming an abolitionist. His quote can also be related to your lives. As most of you know, in sports there is a lot of struggle and difficult times. Whether you are dealing with sports injuries, competition loss, or challenges with gaining new skills, there are everyday sports challenges that each athlete must learn to handle. Every athlete goes through a period of obstacles in their time playing a sport. However, without any challenges, there is no opportunity for personal growth to overcome it. Once you overcome each of life’s obstacles, you can make progress to improve and advance to reach higher achievements. Consider the many challenges and successes of Black Americans and their enormous contributions to American growth in so many ways, including sports.
1 History.com Editors. (2021a). Black History Month. History [Website]. Retrieved on 2/8/21 from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month.
2 History.com Editors. (2021b). Jim Crow Laws. History [Website]. Retrieved on 2/8/21 from https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws.