Each February Americans celebrate Black History Month also known as African-American History Month. The governments of the United States and Canada officially recognise it, and in recent years, Ireland and the United Kingdom have been celebrating it as well. Its origins can be traced back to an effort to honour figures and moments from the African diaspora. In North America, the holiday is celebrated in February, while in Europe it is commemorated in October.
History of Black Month
In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) proclaimed the second week of February as “Negro History Week,” the forerunner to what is now known as Black History Month in the United States. This week was selected because Black communities had been celebrating the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln together since the late 19th century.
Douglass was born on February 12 and Lincoln on February 14. For instance, in January 1897, educator Mary Church Terrell successfully advocated for a day of instruction about Douglass’s life and legacy to be instituted in the city’s segregated public schools on the afternoon of his February birthday. This day is now known as Douglass Day.
U.S.A.: February is Black History Month (1970)
In February of 1969, Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University presented the idea of Black History Month. A year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970, Kent State hosted the first-ever Black History Month event.
In 1976, during the commemoration of the United States Bicentennial, President Gerald Ford officially acknowledged Black History Month, six years after it had already been honoured in schools, cultural hubs, and communities large and small across the country. He asked his fellow countrymen to “use the opportunity to commemorate the too-often forgotten contributions of Black Americans in every field of effort throughout our history.”
United Kingdom (1987)
Celebrating Black History Month began in October 1987. (which year was also coincidentally the 150th anniversary of Caribbean emancipation, the centenary of the birth of Marcus Garvey and the 25th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, an institution dedicated to advancing the progress of African states). Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, a Ghanaian analyst and former coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC), is widely credited with initiating and spearheading the efforts to celebrate Black History Month in the United Kingdom.
HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH 🗣pic.twitter.com/eKsDVtsN64
— 🥷🏿 (@sircunty95) February 1, 2023
Members of the Black German community in Berlin began celebrating Black History Month in 1990, and the tradition quickly caught on in other German towns. The history of civil rights in the United States and apartheid in South Africa have both been covered in various programmes.
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Black History Month in Canada was established in 1995 after a motion by Jean Augustine, a member of parliament for the Ontario constituency of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. In 2008, on the initiative of Senator Donald Oliver, the Senate formally recognised Black History Month.
Black History Month was first celebrated in France in 2018; it was established in the city of Bordeaux. Paris, Le Havre, Guadeloupe, La Rochelle, and Bayonne are all joining in as of the year 2022. American-born dancer and World War II French Resistance fighter Josephine Baker were honoured in 2022 with her own mouth.
When was the First Black History Month Event Held?
The first Black History Month events were held in seven African countries in 2020. Benin, Burkina Faso, Tschad, Ivory Coast, Comores, Senegal, and Cameroon were among the countries that took part. Africa Mondo, an organisation formed by Mélina Seymour, was responsible for organising the gathering. The month of March became African History Month beginning in 2021.
You can also check this below tweet relating to Happy Black History Month:
HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH pic.twitter.com/5fueJFttSB
— sapphire (@miwakoism) February 1, 2023
February was Criticised for being Black History Month
The idea that the commemoration of Black history should be limited to one month rather than incorporating black history into mainstream education throughout the year has been questioned by many who think that Black History Month is limited to educational institutions.
Another worry was that Black History Month could simplify historical figures to oversimplified objects of “hero worship,” despite the fact that the original motivation for the month was to correct the way in which American schools failed to represent Black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects. Some people have argued that this celebration is itself racist.
Both Morgan Freeman (an actor and filmmaker) and Stacey Dash (an actress) have spoken out against the idea of designating a single month as Black History Month. When asked about Black History Month, Freeman said, “I don’t want one.” There is no separate black American history.
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