Black History Month: A Retrospective
Every Black History Month, we try to do a bit better than last year. Research a little bit more, discover a lot more and celebrate as much, and as many, as we possibly can. This year we wanted to take it all the way back to the beginning. How did Black History Month originate, who pushed for it and why is February Black History Month? Whether you’re refreshing your memory or learning all of this for the first time, please enjoy our timeline of Black History Month, from then till now.
It all begins with Carter G. Woodson
Before there was Black History Month, there was ‘Negro History Week’, which was established by Historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Woodson chose to celebrate Black History in the month of February because it is the same month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas’ birthdays. It was important to Woodson that there be a celebration of not simply one specific black man or woman, but black people as a community.
Black History Month is Born
Between 1926 and 1976, Negro History Week was celebrated throughout the African American community. The idea for the week to be expanded into a month came during the 1960’s, alongside the growing civil rights movement in America, with many college students taking it upon themselves to expand the celebrations beyond simply a week. Black History Month was officially recognised by the United States government in 1976 when President Gerald Ford endorsed the concept, urging all Americans to honour the holiday.
Make it Official
Black History Month is officially passed into law by Congress, and many across America begin to observe it formally.
Black History Month in 2022
Since 1996, every American President has issued a proclamation officially recognising Black History Month, and the celebration will not be dying down anytime soon.
Part of what makes Black History Month unique is that every year there is an accompanying theme. In 2014 the theme was Civil Rights in America. In 1998 the theme was Black Business. This year, the theme is Black Health and Wellness. This theme focuses on acknowledging the contributions of Black medical scholars, professionals, herbalists, naturopaths etc throughout the African diaspora. The theme also acknowledges the institutionalised medical racism that Black people have been forced to endure throughout the years.
Although each February Black History Month does provide a nice reminder to thoughtfully acknowledge the contributions of the African American community to all aspects of American life, we would also urge you to keep these investigative or appreciative practises going throughout the entire year. There is too much Black joy in the world to confine it all into one, singular month!