Black History Month is gradually becoming a global celebration, and more events are being organized each year to keep the legacy alive.
The annual observance originates in the United States of America, although it is referred to there as the African-American History Month – something many critics still frown about.
The observance first received official government recognition in the United States and Canada. In recent years, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Island have registered their names on the list of countries that officially recognized it on the government calendar.
This year, the event which holds significance for the Celebration of the African diaspora including, African-American history, will run from Tue, 1 Feb 2022 – Tue, 1 Mar 2022.
Many have heard about Black History Month and must have seen social media banners that promote the observance, but what really is this celebration about, and how did it originate? Let’s find out more in this article.
Why is Black History Month Necessary?
For centuries, people from African and Caribbean backgrounds have been a fundamental part of British history. However, campaigners believe their value and contribution to society is often overlooked, ignored, or distorted.
Most schools still teach a history curriculum that focuses on traditional events and the achievements of white figures. Black History Month gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture.
More recently, greater attention has been paid to the importance of the Windrush generation, and the Black Lives Matter movement, especially since the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Where Did Black History Month Originate?
Known as the “Father of Black History”, Carter G Woodson was born in Virginia in 1875 and was the son of former slaves. Growing up, access to a good education and job opportunities were limited, but he ended up studying at one of the few high schools for black students after saving money from working as a coal miner.
Over the years, he gained many qualifications, including a PhD in history from Harvard University. In 1926 he sent out a press release to mark the first Black History Week in the US. Carter G Woodson worked tirelessly to promote black history in schools throughout his life, leaving an indelible legacy.
The event was expanded in 1970, and since 1976 every US president has officially designated February as Black History Month in the US.
February was chosen in the US because it coincides with the births of former President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – who escaped slavery and became a key social activist. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.
When Did Black History Month Start?
Black History Month was first observed from 2 January 1970 – 28 February 1970 at the Kent State University, United States of America.
What Was the Theme of the 2021 Black History Month?
Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.
The Black History Month 2021 theme was “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” It explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States.
What is the Theme of the 2022 Black History Month?
The theme for Black History Month 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness.” It looks at how American healthcare has often underserved the African-American community.