How did Black History Month start?
The origins Black History Month began in 1915. In September of that year, Carter G. Woodson, a historian trained at Harvard, founded the Association of the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Currently they are referred to as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The original group, ASNLH, founded Negro History Week in 1926. This week originally was held during the second week of February because Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass share a birthday within that time.
For those who don’t know, Fredrick Douglass was a notable abolitionist and author. It was ultimately him, and the hard work of many other abolitionists who ended slavery. Even after the slaves were emanicpated he continued to fight for the rights of African Americans.
In 1976, the entire month of February was dedicated to the history of African Americans, thanks to President Gerald Ford who made it a national holiday. This is with much thanks to the Civil Rights movement which was heavily supported by ASALH.
Why is it important?
Black History Month is extremely important because it uplifts African American people, who have been extremely mistreated and disfranchised within American history. By acknowledging their accomplishments and their stories, we can give credit where it's due and educate others. Many historians agree that the contributions of African Americans are often overlooked, ignored, or manipulated. By teaching history accurately, we can take steps towards decreasing, or even eliminating, racial discrimination in the United States.
Understanding all of American history is important; including the unpleasant or uncomfortable parts about it. Nobody enjoys discussing events like slavery or groups like the KKK, but by doing so we can take more steps to right our wrongs and create a better, united country.
What is this year’s theme?
This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness, which focuses on not only physical health, but mental health as well. This theme also highlights medical achievements made such as community hospitals and nursing schools such as Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, and Morehouse School of Medicine, just to name a few.
To learn even more about the theme check out ASALH's 2022 Theme Materials which provides books and other forms of media.
How can I celebrate?
The best way to celebrate Black History Month is by supporting local Black-Owned Businesses.
Donate to organizations like ASALH and NAACP. NAACP uses a lot of its money to fund Black-Owned Businesses.
Read and learn about the history of Black people through Black authors and content creators. This could be through books, movies, documentaries, or even just simple Youtube videos.