The world has changed a lot since Black History Month began in 1926.
The idea for this designated time to celebrate African American history, contributions, and achievements were born out of the desire to honour the legacy of those who fought for freedom and equality in a country that still struggled to offer those same opportunities to all people.
Throughout the world, people of all ethnic and social backgrounds take part in Black History Month by discussing the black experience. Learn about 10 Black History Month facts you may not know.
Carter G. Woodson, the "Father of Black History"
Carter G. Woodson was a scholar and educator who dedicated his life to promoting the study of African-American history.
As a son of formerly enslaved parents, he understood the power of education. He started his formal education at nearly 20 years old. He earned his high school diplomas in West Virginia, his first undergraduate degree from Berea College in Kentucky, and bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago. In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University.
In 1915, Dr Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The organization changed its name to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and is still operating. In the following year, the association created the Journal of Negro History. It was a research and publication outlet for black scholars. Later on, in 1937, the association formed the Negro History Bulletin, which was similar to the Journal of Negro History, which instead of it catering to black scholars, was accessible and appealed to the general public.
In the year 1926, Dr Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month.
Why is Black History Month Celebrated in February?
As mentioned earlier, Black History Month started as Negro History Week, all thanks to Dr Woodson.
Woodson intentionally chose the month of February because it coincided with President Abraham Lincoln's and Fredrick Douglas's birthdays. President Lincoln and Douglass were viewed as heroes in the Black community for their efforts as abolitionists.
Black Students Protested for Black History Month
Black students at Kent State University have a long history of student activism, and in the late 1960s, the Black United Students (BUS) chapter at Kent State University was no exception. In 1968, BUS members organized a walkout to protest disorderly conduct charges against students participating in sit-ins. The sit-ins were part of BUS's successful campaign to establish three Black studies departments and institutes on campus.
The Black United Students began a campaign to have the university extend Negro History Week into a month of Black history celebrations. Their efforts were successful. In 1976, President Gerald expanded from a week celebration to a month-long one, and it became Black History Month nationwide.
Every Black History Month Has a Theme
Every year, an American president endorses a particular theme for Black History Month. This is year is no different, and the theme is Black Resistance.
African Americans have faced a long history of oppression, which included police killings and racial terrorism such as lynching. So, how can we observe and focus on this year's theme? The ASALH recommends studying the history of African Americans. In addition, creating safe spaces where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.
If you are interested in learning about all the themes for Black History Month through the years, we recommend this article by Parade. It is a compilation of all the themes since 1928.
Other Countries Also Recognize and Celebrate Black History Month
Did you know that Black History Month is not only celebrated in the U.S.? It is celebrated in countries throughout the world. Canada and Germany celebrate Black History Month in February along with the U.S., but Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom host their celebrations in October. Brazil celebrates Black Consciousness Day on November 20!
When Black History Month began in the U.S., it focused on African Americans' history. However, as more people of African descent have come to live outside of the U.S., those celebrations have evolved to focus on members of the larger African diaspora.
Black History Month is an important time of the year to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions of Black people throughout history, but it's also a great time to celebrate achievements and victories in the present.
We hope you've learned about Black History month and are now ready to share your knowledge with others. You can use the facts that we've shared in this article as a starting point for your exploration of Black History.
What else would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!