What Is Black History Month? The annual event known as Black History Month was first observed in the United States in 1926. The idea was devised by the historian Carter G. Woodson, who suggested setting aside a period of time to celebrate African Americans and bring attention to the history of black people.

The choice of the month of February was made so that it would coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, who was the president of the United States when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, and Frederick Douglas, who was an African American orator, social reformer, writer, and abolitionist. Both men were influential in the fight to end slavery in the United States.

Black History Month

In 1976, when Gerald Ford was serving as president of the United States, the month of February was designated as “Black History Month.” According to the current definition provided by the White House, it is “both a celebration as well as a stark reminder that Black History is American history.”

Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks are just a few of the activists, legislators, and civil rights pioneers whose contributions and legacies are being recognized and celebrated throughout this month. “The achievements as well as contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who… have done more to start making Canada a diverse cultural, compassionate, and prosperous country,” is what is referred to as the focus of celebration during the month of February in Canada, which is designated as “Black History Month.”

When And Why Does Black History Month Become Started?

How Is Black History Month Celebrated?

In the United States, the month of February is designated as Black History Month, which is commemorated with a wide variety of events and activities. Some of these celebrations take place in universities, museums, and public schools, while others take place in various communities all over the country.

The event is also characterized by a particular theme that is carried on from year to year. The topic for this year is the health and well-being of persons of African descent as a whole. “The 2022 theme analyses acts, rituals, and projects that Black communities have done to be successful,” states the Organization for the Research of African American Society and Politics (ASAALH).

According to ASAALH, “This subject respects the heritage not only of Black scholars & medical practitioners in Conventional medicine, but also other ways of knowing (such as birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora.”

When And Why of Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson, widely regarded as the “father of Black history,” established the first iteration of what is now known as Black History Month in February 1926. At the time, it was called Negro History Week. This historian was instrumental in the development of the discipline of African American studies, and the Organization for the Research of Negro Life and History, which he founded, had as its mission statement “to encourage persons of all ethnic and social backgrounds to explore the Black experience.”

His organization was eventually designated the Association for the Study on African American History and Identity (ASAALH), and it is now the oldest historical society created for the advancement of African American history. Its original purpose was to study African American life and history.

Why Is February Designated As Black History Month?

The month of February was selected by Dr. Woodson for the commemoration because it falls on the same day as the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, and Frederick Douglass, a social reformer. Both of these men made significant contributions toward the abolition of slavery.

In addition, Woodson was aware that members of the African American community already commemorated the birthdays of Douglass and Lincoln, and he wished to build on the traditions that were already in place. According to the explanation provided on the website of the Association for the Knowledge of African American Life and History (ASAALH), “He was encouraging the audience to extend their study of Black history, not to create a new tradition.” [Citation needed]

How Did February Become Black History Month Across the Country?

By the late 1960s, mayors in cities all over the country were celebrating Negro History Week as a result of the growing consciousness of Black identity and the role that the civil rights movement had played in fostering this knowledge. In due time, the celebration matured into what is now known as Black History Month on several college campuses.

In 1976, under President Gerald Ford’s administration, the month of February was designated as “Black History Month.” During his speech, President Ford urged the citizens of the United States to “seize the opportunity to commemorate the too-often ignored contributions of Black Americans in each and every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since his presidency, every president of the United States has acknowledged the importance of Black History Month and its objective. But the first official celebrations of “National Black History Month” didn’t take place across the country until 1986, when Congress officially designated February as “National Black History Month.” The purpose of the law was to raise “awareness of our struggle for independence and fair opportunity” among all Americans.

Why Do We Commemorate Black History Month Every February?

In its early stages, Black History Month served as an educational opportunity for schoolchildren and young people to learn about the achievements of Africans and African Americans. These narratives had been mostly forgotten and constituted a portion of the national story that had been disregarded.

Today, it is recognized as a day to honor people who have made a difference not just in their own country but also in the world via their activism and their accomplishments. Individuals in the United States have the opportunity to interact with Black histories during the month-long spotlight that occurs in the month of February. This spotlight allows people to move beyond talks of racism and slavery and bring attention to Black leaders and achievements.

Black History Month Themes

The ASALH, the organization that was initially established by Woodson, decides on a topic or theme to focus on each year.

In 2022, the theme was “Black Health and Wellness” and placed an emphasis on the significance of Black health and wellness by recognizing not only the legacy of Black scholars, but also “other ways of knowing” (such as birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) all throughout African Diaspora. It also looked at how the Black population has historically been underserved by the medical system.

2023’s theme is “Black Resistance.” W. Marvin Dulaney, president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), says that this year’s theme was chosen, in part, because of the current politically charged environment around race.

Black History Month in Other Countries

February is the month chosen for the celebration in Canada. October is the month chosen for celebrations in many nations, including Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In 1995, African-Canadian parliamentarian Jean Augustine made a resolution to establish February as Black History Month in Canada in order to draw attention to the contributions made by black Canadians.

The first celebration of Black History Month took place in the United Kingdom in 1987, and its focus was on African-American history. There has been an increase in focus on the history of black people in Britain over time. Currently, it serves the purpose of recognizing the accomplishments made by persons of African descent to the nation. “Dig deeper, see closer, and imagine bigger,” is the goal statement for the company in the UK.

What Is Black History Month?

So What is Black History Month?

The commemoration of Black History Month during the entire month presents an opportunity for many Black millennials living in the modern world to rethink the opportunities that lay ahead. However, in the eyes of many people now, the factors that propelled Woodson over a century earlier are more important than they have ever been.

“There is no further powerful force than a people versed in their history,” stated Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of a Smithsonian Institution, at the opening of the Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C. in 2016. Remembering our fight and the sacrifices of our ancestors is the most important thing we can do since there’s no higher cause.