February is National Black History Month!
National Black History Month is celebrated nationwide for the full month of February. It is a time for Americans to learn of their nation’s full and at times painful history. Black History is American History and it is diverse and abundant.
Originally, brought into inception by Carter G. Woodson after attending a celebration for the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of black people in 1915, hosted in Washington D.C. The event erected a new publication, The Journal of Negro History and eventually the creation of Negro History Week in 1926. Negro History Week was strategically arranged to occur in the month of February, because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, both significant figures in the Black community. Woodson strongly believed African Americans should be proud of their heritage and acknowledged for their achievements to society.
“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” – Carter G. Woodson
During the 1960’s, in the midst of the civil right movement, students at colleges and universities across the nation – in particular Kent State University, began expanding the celebrating for the entire month of February. This ultimately paved the way to National Black History Month. Recognition from President Gerald Ford during the United States Bicentennial Celebration on February 10th in 1976, solidified the holiday.
“In The Bicentennial year of our Independence, we can review with admiration the impressive contributions of black Americans to our national life and culture.
One hundred years ago, to help highlight these achievements, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. We are grateful to him today for his initiative, and we are richer for the work of his organization.
Freedom and the recognition of individual rights are what our Revolution was all about. They were ideals that inspired our fight for Independence: ideals that we have been striving to live up to ever since. Yet it took many years before these ideals became a reality for black citizens.
The last quarter-century has finally witnessed significant strides in the full integration of black people into every area of national life. In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers. But, even more than this, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.
I urge my fellow citizens to join me in tribute to Black History Month and to the message of courage and perseverance it brings to all of us.” – President Gerald Ford
Today, National Black History Month is not only observed in the United States, but has also been officially accepted in Canada and unofficially in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. It is a month of recognition, remembrance and education. A time to appreciate the phenomenal figures in Black History and raise awareness of the issues still plaguing out society today, in terms of racism and the equal rights of African American people.
This year the theme for National Black History Month is Black Health & Wellness – saluting the legacy of Black scholars, medical practitioners, naturopaths, herbalist, doulas, midwives, and all the ways in which the Black community has contributed to the healthcare system in the United States.
To see some of ways Orlando is celebrating Black History Month this year, visit the links below: