The Story of Black History Month and Why It’s Important

Family walking in a field

How Black History Month started

February is here, which means it’s Black History Month! Every year during this month, Americans celebrate and honor the contributions and sacrifices made by the brave and bold African Americans who have shaped our country. We dedicate February to give homage to the influential African American culture and history that are integral to American history.  

How did Black History Month start? How can you celebrate this year? Let’s break it down from its beginnings in 1926. 

The Origin of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson, the “father of Black history,” spearheaded the way for Americans to get educated and promote Black history and culture. 

He envisioned a celebration during the second week of February that specifically took place in public schools, where teachers would educate students on Black history.  

Over time, the idea became more and more accepted and established, eventually evolving into a month-long celebration. Fifty years later, at the 1976 bicentennial, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged Black History Month, and it became officially nationally recognized.  

Why we celebrate in February

The month of February has been designated as Black History Month to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two influential Americans who were born during this month. Lincoln led the emancipation of slavery, while Douglass, a formerly enslaved person, was a renowned leader in ending slavery.

Both prominent leaders have birthdays in the second week of February, which is why Woodson started Negro History Week then. 

Black History Month theme of 2022 

The Black History Month theme changes with each year, and this year’s theme is Health and Wellness, which honors the many African American medical experts and scholars. The theme is especially relevant and significant as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Get educated on significant African American history

Especially this month, take time to educate yourself on the essential stories, lessons and experiences of African American history that are integral to this country’s history. To get you started, here are some resources.  

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