February 1, 2023
NOVA is proud to reflect on the history and importance of Black History Month, not just during the month of February, however all year long. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society – from activists and civil rights pioneers to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more.
The origins of Black History Month began in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-educated historian, and a prominent minister, Jesse E. Moorland, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) with the purpose of researching and promoting achievements by Black American and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926 on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (who spearheaded the movement for abolition in the country) and Abraham Lincoln (who issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring the end of slavery). This event inspired communities nationwide to organize local celebrations. In the years that followed, mayors across the nation began declaring yearly proclamations recognizing “Negro History Week”. Fast forward to the 1960’s, “Negro History Week” evolved into and month-long celebration called Black History Month.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, and since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. President Ford called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.
Carter G. Woodson, believed it was crucial to provide a theme to focus the public’s attention each year, shedding light on the important developments throughout Black History. Examples of previous themes have included “The Negro in Democracy”-1942, “Black Women”- 1996 and most recently, “Black Health and Wellness”- 2022. The Black History Month 2023 theme is “Black Resistance” which draws attention to how Black Americans have resisted oppression and discrimination for centuries.
What do the colors symbolize for Black History Month? The colors black, red, yellow, and green, symbolize unity and pride and are derived from the Ethiopian flag and the Pan-African flag. Red symbolizes the blood which men shed for their redemption and liberty; black is the color of nobility; green is the color of vegetation of the Motherland; yellow, is from the Ethiopian flag, symbolizing justice, optimism and equity.
Article: Black History Month; Author: History.com; Publisher: A&E Television Networks
Article: How Black History Month became a national celebration of Black American’s accomplishments; Author: Yoonji Han; Publisher: INSIDER.com