February has been officially designated as Black History Month by every U.S. President since 1976. Every year, during the month of February, we celebrate the achievements of African Americans and recognize the vital roles they have played in our country’s history. Black history month is also known as African American History Month. It grew out of Negro History Week, which was launched in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, who co-founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915. It was originally called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).
Why Was February Chosen for Black History Month?
In 1926, the ASALH sponsored a national Negro History Week. The association chose the second week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, an escaped slave who became a prominent author, public speaker, and activist, and leader in the abolitionist movement. Douglas was also an advocate for women’s rights – specifically the right of women to vote. Negro History Week inspired communities and schools throughout the nation to establish history clubs, host lectures and performances, and organize local celebrations.
In the following decades, cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late ‘60s, due in part to the civil rights movement, Negro History Week had become Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. He called on American citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
What Is the Theme for Black History Month in 2022?
Every year, the ASALH designates a theme for Black History Month. From the beginning, Carter G. Woodson recognized the importance of setting a theme to focus the attention of the public. Over the years, Black History Month themes have reflected the influence of social movements, the aspirations of the black community, and changes in how African Americans have viewed themselves.
In 2021, the theme was “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” For 2022, the theme is “Black Health and Wellness.” The 2022 theme focuses on the importance of black health and wellness and acknowledges black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, as well as doulas, birth workers, midwives, herbalists, naturopaths, etc. throughout the African Diaspora.
How Is Black History Month Celebrated?
Black History Month is one of the most celebrated cultural history months in the U.S. Major brands roll out TV specials and clothing. Schools and businesses offer meals, lectures, and plays with Black history themes. Employers hold team lunches and learning sessions in which topics explored may include how Black history shaped Southern food, top Black athletes throughout history, Black history in exploration of outer space, and the culture and art of the Harlem Renaissance. To show their support, some employers highlight the achievements of Black employees on social media.
Our agents celebrate Black history month to recognize the contributions of African Americans to our culture and society.
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