Interesting facts about Black History Month

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Black History Month is a holiday which is celebrated every February in the U.S. and Canada and in October in the U.K. It’s an important month for remembering important people, events and achievements of the African diaspora. In the U.S., it is also known also as African-American History Month, but in Canada and the United Kingdom, it is known simply as Black History Month. The term “diaspora” was appropriated from the affinity that Jews have for their culture and history. Jewish diaspora was referred to as a kind of affinity they have with Jews all over the world.

Black History Month was first celebrated during the period of segregated schools and can be traced all the way back to 1915. It was then that historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History – also known as the ASNLH.  Moorland has been basically forgotten for his contribution to Black History Month. Black children in the United States were taught that Woodson was the father of Black History Month in the United States.

The month of February was chosen because the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln, who is given credit for the emancipation of slaves, and Frederick Douglass, a well-known black anti-slave activist, are in that month.

Although it didn’t immediately catch on, over the years many different cities all across the country began to recognize Negro History Week. This continued all the way into the late 1960s when Negro History Week was transformed by the Civil Rights Movement into Black History Month. However, it wasn’t until 1976 that Black History Month would be officially recognized by the federal government. Ever since then, every American president has designated the month of February as Black History Month.

With the integration of schools, the annual celebration became a lightning rod for those who did not like the title or appreciate their children being in a school that honored Black History Month. To diminish honoring the contributions of blacks during the month of February, many school systems around the country preferred to host celebrations of cultural diversity events. This practice continues to this date.

Black History Month is also celebrated in countries other than the United States. In the United Kingdom, Black History Month was first celebrated in 1987. In Canada, thanks to a motion by Jean Augustine, Canada’s House of Commons took the steps to officially recognize the achievements and struggles of black Canadians by recognizing the month of February as Black History Month. This occurred in 1995 and in 2008, when the Canadian Senate officially recognized the month as Black History Month as well.

Around the United States, the month continues to be controversial and receives considerable media attention. The major print and broadcast media typically coordinate their programming during the month to honor the contributions of blacks in many areas and disciplines, including the building of this great democracy, we call America.