What is Black History Month?

Do you know the history of Black History Month? Read about the history of this month-long celebration of the contributions of African Americans in U.S. history.

What is Black History Month?

You’ve heard of Black History Month. But, have you ever considered what it actually is and why we have a whole month dedicated to Black history? Black History Month takes place each February in order to recognize and honor the achievements of African Americans. It also recognizes the important role of Black Americans in the history of the United States.


How did Black History Month get started?

In 1915, a man named Carter G. Woodson was inspired to take a trip to Chicago in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the emancipation. Here on this trip, Woodson, along with thousands of other Black Americans, celebrated and honored what Black people had accomplished after slavery was ended. Woodson, who is often referred to as the father of Black history, went on to establish The Journal of Negro History on his own, and then eventually, “Negro History Week” in 1926. This week eventually grew into a month-long observance.

The purpose of celebrating Black History Month is not to focus on Black history only during the month of February. Instead, this month-long celebration is “bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis,” according to the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH). Each U.S. president has designated the month of February as Black History Month since 1976, and it’s celebrated in other countries as well, including Canada and England.


What is this year’s theme?

This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. The ASALH explains that this theme acknowledges several important concepts. First of all, it points to the legacy of Black scholars and medical professionals who practice Western medicine. Additionally, it highlights the impact of Black healthcare providers. These healthcare professionals work in different fields of medicine and healing all throughout the African Diaspora, such as:

  • Doulas
  • Midwives
  • Naturopaths
  • Herbalists

Also, this theme of Black Health and Wellness explores wellness activities among the Black community, both past and present. But, in addition to scholarship and wellness practices, this year’s theme emphasizes the work of the Black community in establishing hospitals, medical schools, and nursing schools (such as Howard University College of Medicine, for example.) Many individuals, along with grassroots organizations like the African Union Society, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Black Panther Party helped to establish health clinics. Their collaboration helped fight against healthcare inequity and inspired community activism.

Do you want to know more?

If you’re interested in learning more about Black History Month, check out this post that shares five ways you can recognize Black history moving forward.

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