Regardless of race, everybody has and can contribute to how the world works. Unfortunately, black people have been discriminated against for the longest time. Even though huge strides have been made recently, it remains vital to remember how far we’ve come, hence Black History Month.
Observed annually, Black History Month aims to celebrate the achievements made by African Americans and their contribution to the nation’s history. Today, countries and regions like Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom have devoted a month to these celebrations.
The journey has not been a straightforward one, though. A lot has happened to get here, both behind and in front of the scenes. Here, we highlight some Black History Month facts that sometimes go unnoticed or unmentioned.
1. Carter G. Woodson Is the Father of Black History Month
The birth of Black History Month directly benefits from the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. following the Thirteenth Amendment. 50 years later, in 1915, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).
ASNLH’s primary mandate was to research and bring to light the achievements of African Americans and anybody of African origin. About 11 years later, the association facilitated a National Negro History Week that saw people celebrate differently nationwide.
Since then, more city administrators across the United States started recognizing the Negro History Week until it evolved into the current Black History Month.
2. Black History Month Was Inspired By other Greats
In the United States, people celebrate Black History Month in February. Carter G. Woodson and his association chose this month because it coincided with the birth month of other greats such as Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln played a massive role in the emancipation of enslaved people. On the other hand, Frederick Douglas, formerly enslaved, was among the forefront leaders in championing the abolishment of slavery.
3. President Gerald Ford Was the First President to Recognize Black History Month
Before 1976, Black History Month, or rather, National Negro History Week, was not officially recognized on a national level. Only some Mayors had dedicated a week in the month of February for the celebrations.
However, that changed when President Gerald Ford took power. In 1976, he officially Recognized Black History Month. He further asked the citizens to honor the day and celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans to the country’s history.
4. Black History Month Is Celebrated on Different Months
The countries and regions that celebrate Black History Month do so at different times of the year. For instance, people in Canada and the United States of America often celebrate every February. On the other hand, those in the United Kingdom and Ireland do so in October.
While there is no apparent reason why people from different regions celebrate Black History Month at varying times of the year, time might have played a part. The United States started championing for the recognition of the roles of African Americans as early as 1915.
However, the U.K. started recognizing this around the 80s. This was after various demonstrations and lamentations of discrimination. When they finally decided to celebrate Black History Month, they opted for October. Either way, the message, and the agenda remain the same.
5. There is a New Theme for Black History Month Every Year
Ever since President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, the trend has continued today. However, given that different issues arise occasionally, the theme of the celebrations usually changes every year.
For instance, the theme of the latest one (2023) was “Black Resistance.” The aim was to explore how African Americans resisted and fought for their rights amid the ongoing oppression. The specific persecution types include racial terrorism, police killings, and pogroms.