Celebrating African American History
In the 1950s, celebrations
of Negro History Week often took the form of edifying cultural evenings
that presented dance, music, lectures, and tableaux depicting classical
themes and emphasizing the qualitative parallels between African
American and white accomplishment. As the week expanded into Black
History Month in the 1970s, emphasis shifted to a celebration of
African American culture and reclamation of an African heritage.
Dance, music, and lectures remained, but increasingly moved away
from classical European models and toward African and African American
modes and forms. The growing interest in reclaiming African American
history soon outgrew the confines of its designated month, and despite
a slow start in many schools, became an integral part of the mission
of many African American social and philanthropic organizations,
which incorporated celebrations of prominent African Americans and
culture into their programs.