8 Facts About Black History Month

8 Facts About Black History Month

Nearly 100 years ago, the United States celebrated the first Black History Month as a weeklong event. Carter G. Woodson established that week as Negro History Week, and he realized the importance of establishing a theme to attract and focus the public’s attention. The intention was never to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience; rather, the goal has been to bring public awareness to important developments that merit emphasis. 

Since 1976, the U.S. has celebrated February as Black History Month. Not only does Black history embrace the 400-year-long record of Black life in America, but it also emphasizes stories and activism against slavery and present-day racism. Read on to learn about eight facts about Black History Month

Black History Month Began As Negro History Week

As previously stated, Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week in 1926. The celebration highlighted Black Americans’ lives, history, and contributions to the U.S. It wasn’t until 1976 when Negro History Week expanded to a month-long celebration that people continue to observe today. 

The Theme For Black History Month Changes Yearly

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), which was founded by Carter G. Woodson, selects a different theme for Black History Month each year. The very first theme was Civilization: A World Achievement. The theme for 2023 is Black Resistance, which sheds a light on historic and modern oppressions against Black Americans. Resisting acts of discrimination, racism, and injustice plays an integral role in the well-being of Black Americans. 

Different Countries Celebrate Black History Month

Known as the “Mother of Black History Month” in Canada, Dr. Jean Augustine established celebrations in 1995. Just like in the U.S., celebrations occur in February. In the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, Black History Month is observed in October. The United Kingdom’s initial focus was on Black American history, but the focus now is on Black British history.

Black History Month Recognizes All African American Experiences

According to the Census Bureau, Black Americans accounted for 13.6% of the U.S. population as of 2022. That means that there are over 45 million different lived experiences across the nation. Each experience is honored during Black History Month, and celebrations that honor these experiences are about supporting communities, family members, and the stories that unite them. 

Black Students Protested For Black History Month

In 1968, members of the Black United Students (BUS) at Kent State University protested disorderly conduct charges against students that participated in sit-ins. The student activism was successful in that it helped establish three Black studies departments and institutes on campus. The following year, BUS members demanded Kent State extend Negro History Week into a month of Black history celebrations. This was later observed nationwide. 

National Organizations Sponsor Black History Month

Different organizations honor Black History Month every February by hosting commemorative events. Of the many Black History Month sponsors, some of them include The Library of Congress, The National Park Service, The Smithsonian Institution, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. These organization-run events involve art gallery productions, different speakers, and community learn sessions. 

HBCUs Promote Black History Year-Round

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established to provide higher education opportunities to Black Americans. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was the first HBCU established in 1837. HBCUs that were established prior to 1964 honor their mission to educate Black Americans. These universities recognize Black American experiences in addition to teaching Black history.

February Honors Frederick Douglass And Abraham Lincoln

Carter G. Woodson selected February to celebrate Black History Month for good reason. He wanted to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birth dates. Lincoln declared freedom for enslavedAmericans held in the Confederacy via the Emancipation Proclamation. Douglass escaped American slavery in 1838 and became a famous abolitionist, speaker, and writer. One of his most famous books was A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. 

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the past and learn from earlier lessons to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Explore community events and celebrations this February to learn more about Black History.

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