Black History Month is observed every February to celebrate African Americans’ achievements and recognize their central role in history. Here is what to know about Black History Month.
1. When was Black History Month established?
Black History Month originated in the US to recognise the role, contributions and achievements of the Black population in US history. The annual celebration started in 1926 and was proposed by historian Carter G Woodson – known as the “father of Black history” – with the aim of raising awareness of Black history. Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which was later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH), which is currently the oldest historical society established for the promotion of African American history.
Black History Month was officially recognized in the US in 1976 under President Gerald Ford. In his speech, President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every American president has recognized Black History Month and its core values. But it was only in 1986 that the Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law. Today, the White House defines it as “both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black History is American history”.
2. Where is it celebrated?
Besides the United States, Canada and Germany also celebrate February as Black History Month. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom, celebrate Black History Month in October.
3. Why is it celebrated in February?
The month of February was chosen as it includes the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, the US president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and Frederick Douglas, an African American social reformer, writer and abolitionist. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.
4. How is it celebrated?
In the US, February is an opportunity for everyone to familiarize with Black histories, discuss topics such as racism and slavery, and highlight Black leaders and their accomplishments. People celebrate Black History Month with various activities and events at universities, museums, schools, and communities.
5. What’s the 2022 theme?
Every year, ASAALH chooses a theme for the celebration. “This year, the theme for the month is Black people’s health and wellness. The theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives done by Black communities to be well. Besides Black scholars and medical practitioners, the theme also celebrates other professions throughout the African Diaspora, including birthworkers, midwives, herbalists etc.