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Black History Month In The USA: Time, History, Meaning, Celebration And Popular Quotes. Photo Wheeling University

When is Black History Month?

February is Black History Month. This month-long observance in the US and Canada is a chance to celebrate Black achievement. This year, it also follows a tumultuous period where racial justice calls reached a fever pitch, providing a fresh reminder to take stock of where systemic racism persists and give visibility to the people and organizations creating change.

What is Black History Month theme for 2022?

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History designates a theme for the year's Black History Month. For 2022, the theme is Black Health and Wellness.

Who Does Black History Month Honor?

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.

Among the notable figures often spotlighted during Black History Month are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for equal rights for Blacks during the 1950s and ’60s; Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967; Mae Jemison, who became the first female African-American astronaut to travel to space in 1992; and Barack Obama, who was elected the first-ever African-American president of the United States in 2008.

Who started Black History Month?

For the most part, educators say, K-12 students who do learn about black history are hearing about the same few historical figures over and over: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and President Barack Obama.
For the most part, educators say, K-12 students who do learn about black history are hearing about the same few historical figures over and over: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and President Barack Obama. Photo Getty

Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” developed Black History Month. Woodson, whose parents were enslaved, was an author, historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

He recognized that the American education system offered very little information about the accomplishments of African Americans and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

In 1926, Woodson proposed a national “Negro History Week," which was intended to showcase everything students learned about Black history throughout the school year, King said.

It wasn't until 1976, during the height of the civil rights movement, that President Gerald Ford expanded the week into Black History Month.

The US grapples with its history of slavery:The blueprint for dealing with it? Some say Brown University

READ MORE: When Was United States Founded, Its Name Before 1776

Black History Month Today

Since the first Negro History Week in 1926, other countries have joined the United States in celebrating Black people and their contribution to history and culture, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Today Black History Month continues the discussion of Black people and their contributions through activities such as museum exhibits and film screenings, and by encouraging the study of achievements by African Americans year-round.

How Is Black History Month Celebrated In The US?

Photo US Embassy in Portugal
Photo US Embassy in Portugal

Support Black-Owned Businesses

Many Black-owned businesses still face structural racism, which poses a unique threat to their longevity and ability to serve their communities’ needs. An estimated 40 percent of Black business owners had already closed their doors between February and April of 2020. This number is twice the decline experienced by white business owners. Becoming a customer — specifically during February when these companies have a lot more visibility — is a great way to celebrate. Don’t know where to start? Online marketplace Miiriya showcases Black-owned businesses in a range of categories, from fashion, art, beauty, home decor, and more. Find other companies by searching the #blackowned hashtag online.

Learn About Noteworthy Black Figures and Their Contributions

Typically, Black History Month draws associations with well-known figures like Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and activist Rosa Parks, but there are many others to learn about. For example, there’s Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman elected to Congress. And Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black activist from Mississippi who launched Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC), an initiative to purchase land that Black people could collectively own and farm. Visit for an extensive list of other notable Black figures.

Donate to Charities That Support Anti-Racism Equity and Equality

Given the ongoing public protests against police brutality, charities and organizations that support anti-racism equity and equality need donors to continue their collective work to seek justice for the Black community. Consider donating to the Black Youth Project, Loveland Therapy Fund, Amistad Law Project, as well as grassroots organizations that oftentimes don’t receive widespread publicity.

Purchase, Read, and Share Books by Black Authors

Add Black authors to your reading list. Edward E. Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told” takes an in-depth look at slavery’s role in the “evolution and modernization of the United States.” My own book, “Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides,” discusses the many ways that Black people are impacted by structural racism. Through storytelling, I help others not only understand the impact of racism, but also to practice empathy. Please join me during a virtual Zoom Book Launch on February 25 at 12 P.M. PT, as I discuss the inspiration that led to writing this book.

Support and Learn About Black Women

I’m reminded of the impact of structural racism on the women in my family, and how they helped pave the way for me to achieve success in life. It’s incredibly important to have Black women at the table as major policies are being developed and discussed. Today, we see Black women in America taking their place at the highest levels of government. I’m so proud of the work done by women like Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, and thousands across the country who volunteered and got out to vote. As Amanda Gorman said in her magnificent poem on inauguration day:

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

Listen to or Read “The 1619 Project” by the New York Times

“The 1619 Project” is a long-form historical recounting of the role slavery played in the transformation of America. The project references the year 1619, in which the first ship carrying enslaved Africans reached the shores of the colony of Virginia. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and project creator Nikole Hannah Jones hosts a podcast that dissects the link between slavery and American economics, the co-opting of Black musicians’ work, and the obstacles Black people faced with receiving healthcare and land ownership rights.

Participate in Online Events

Throughout the month of February, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is launching virtual events and conversations that affirm and preserve the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. Events are free and open to all — but registration is required.

Attend Virtual Black History Month Celebrations

On Feb. 11, New York City’s City Parks Foundation will host a screening of Spike Lee’s 2017 film “Rodney King“, followed by a virtual discussion. On the other side of the country, Los Angeles’ Aquarium of the Pacifics will host The Virtual African-American Festival on Feb. 27 in honor African and African American traditions. If you don’t know where to start looking for virtual events, check your city or state government websites for local listings for Black History month events such as online poetry-thons, scavenger hunts, art exhibits, performances and more.

READ MORE: Independence Day of USA (July 4): Best Wishes, Poems, Top Quotes and Great Messages

Is Black History Month celebrated anywhere else?

In Canada, they celebrate it in February. In countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Ireland, they celebrate it in October. In Canada, African-Canadian parliament member Jean Augustine motioned for Black History Month in 1995 to bring awareness to Black Canadians' work.

When the UK started celebrating Black History Month in 1987, it focused on Black American history. Over time there has been more attention on Black British history. Now it is dedicated to honouring African people's contributions to the country. Its UK mission statement is: "Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger".

Top 20 Black History Month Quotations

1. I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.

-- Muhammad Ali The Greatest (1975)

2. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.

-- Maya Angelou "Still I rise," And Still I Rise (1978)

3. Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.

-- Arthur Ashe

Photo Az Quote
Photo Az Quote

4. Just like you can buy grades of silk, you can buy grades of justice.

-- Ray Charles

5.You have to believe in yourself when no one else does -- that makes you a winner right there.

-- Venus Williams

6. There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution...

-- Frederick Douglass

7. You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.

-- Billie Holiday

8. Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and when you have peace of mind.

-- Quincy Jones

9. Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.

-- Barbara Jordan

10. Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo Twitter
Photo Twitter

11. The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that's where it's at.

-- Jesse Owens, Blackthink (1970)

12.I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear.

-- Rosa Parks

13. Have a vision. Be demanding.

-- Colin Powell

14. Be black, shine, aim high. -- Leontyne Price

15. Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. -- Kenyan Proverb

16. Freedom is never given; it is won.

-- A. Philip Randolph in keynote speech given at the Second National Negro Congress in 1937

17. When I found I had crossed that line, [on her first escape from slavery, 1845] I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything.

-- Harriet Tubman

18. Black people have always been America's wilderness in search of a promised land.

-- Cornel West, Race Matters

19. Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

-- Booker T. Washington

20. Yes we can.

-- Barack Obama, President of the United States

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