Understanding Black History Month In 2021
In the year of 1976, our 38th American president deemed February as Black History Month. That president was Gerald Ford and he lead the way by establishing a specific theme for each year. Fast forward to the year 2021 and the tradition has held steady to a strong theme of our own. “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores African diaspora, known as the spread of Black families across the country. In efforts to dive deeper into the meaning, Park Ave Magazine gets back to the roots and rich history.
The Roots Of This Historic Month
The origins of what is now Black History Month dates back to 1915, nearly a half century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. In September, Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland began the makings of something great. Together, they founded the ‘Association for the Study of Negro Life and History’ (ASNLH). This organization purpose was the promotion and research of achievements made by Black Americans and others of African descent.
Today the works of Woodson and Moorland are known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, the organization sponsored a national Negro History week. They ended up choosing the second week of February. One reason for this date was the connection to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to follow suit. They held local celebrations, created historical clubs, and hosted themed performances and lectures in honor of the cause. Not long after, city mayors across the country recognized Negro History Week.
By the late 1960s, Negro History Week had become Black History Month on many college campuses. This is thanks to the civil rights movement and the growing awareness of Black identity. In 1976, every U.S. president has claimed the month of February as Black History Month. That same year, president Gerald Ford officially recognized this historical month. Ford’s ongoing message to the public is to reflect upon the opportunity in our black communities. His call was to honor the often-forgotten accomplishments of Black Americans in every area throughout our history. Thanks to the works of the ASALH, Black History Month is an annual celebration. It reminds us to get back to our roots and come together. It serves to honor the achievements made by African Americans and recognize their major role in U.S. history.
Who Else Celebrates Black History?
Thankfully, the celebration of African decent does not stop at our country’s borders. Many other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom do the same. They each devote a month to celebrating Black History. In 1995, Canada recognized the movement. They also celebrate Black History Month in February. Jean Augustine is the great leader to set it in motion. In the UK, the cause was recognized in 1976 and celebrated in 1987. Their notable month is celebrated in October.