Why is Black History Month in February? How can I celebrate?
The annual celebration of Black history in the United States has been going for more than 100 years and there are now plenty of ways to mark the occasion.
The origin of Black History Month dates back to 1915 and the annual celebration remembers the history of Black Americans and other people of African descent in the United States.
In September of that year historian Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, a prominent minister, created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The group was founded to shed greater light on the experiences of Black people in the United States and it was fundamental in the introduction of Negro History Week in 1926.
They chose to hold the celebration on the second week of February to align with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, the President who abolished slavery, and Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved man who became a key figure in the abolitionist movement.
The group changed its name to the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the celebration gradually evolved into Black History Month in colleges across the country. In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognised Black History Month, describing it as a chance to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans.”
How to celebrate Black History Month
The concept of Black History Month is now more than 100 years old and has become an invaluable teaching tool in schools, colleges and society in general. Each year since 1976 a theme has been chosen as the focus of the month-long event and this year’s is ‘Black Health and Wellness’.
In the context of the pandemic the achievements recorded by people of African descent through history deserves particular attention.
Black History Month this year will focus on "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."
Aside from getting involved in the 2022 theme, there are plenty of ways in which you could mark Black History Month this year:
- Visit a museum that focuses on Black or African American history
- Explore the impact on popular culture with the Black Music History Library
- Try to use more Black-owned businesses and restaurants with the Official Black Wall Street
- Attend an online Black History Month event, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution
- Watch documentaries on the topics related to the Black experience in America
- Check out libraries’ and book stores’ Black History Month recommendations
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