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Black History & Heritage Month

What is Black History & Heritage Month?

Black History & Heritage Month (BHM) is celebrated in the United States during the Month of February. The annual observance is also recognized in February in Canada, and October in the United Kingdom and Ireland. BHM is a month that emphasizes the significant contributions African Americans and Black people have had on societal advancements throughout history. During BHM, individuals are also encouraged to educate themselves about the challenges and inequities that the Black community endured in the past and what battles they had to overcome to first obtain equal rights. There are still numerous injustices that the community faces and are continuing the fight for an equitable and just world.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate what it means to be black and engage with the culture through food, music, art, dance, song, education, and community building!

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) refers to the month as Black History & Heritage Month. We believe that when recalling Black history there are various correlations to racial traumas and despair. We add “Heritage” to the description of the month because this bonds the rich history of what it means to be Black and the heritage that is embedded across the various lived experiences of Black and African American people. We, at OCU ODEI, celebrate the past, present, and future of Black history and heritage!

The 2024 Black History and Heritage Month National Theme is African Americans and the Arts.

The theme of Black History and Heritage Month is selected annually by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and other community contributors. This year’s theme is announced to highlight African Americans and the Arts.

Artistry is significantly embedded within the history of the black community and is represented across various mediums. Black art is intertwined in creative passions that include music, paintings, poems, sculptures, fashion, film production, photography, dance, and agriculture.

The 2024 theme of BHHM honors the African American creative mind and the power of the Black artistic outlet through history, culture, traditions, community, passion, family, empowerment, and cultural expression (ASALH, 2024).

Click here to learn more about African Americans and the Arts!

The Evolution of Black History Month

Black History Month was established by Carter Woodson in 1926.

In 1915, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The publication’s name changed to Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and then again changed the following year to the Journal of Negro History. Today, Carter Woodson’s publication is now known as the Journal of African American (NAACP 2024).

Woodson witnessed the achievements that were erupting amongst the black folks around the country and had a strong passion for his communities’ victories to be memorialized. He desired for African American leaders to be recognized and known throughout the country. He knew that the knowledge of this history would lay the foundation for the next generation to be inspired and continue to be great!

In 1929, Woodson declared in the Journal of Negro History that there will be a week in February to celebrate the achievements of the Black Community. He decided to have the holiday be the second week in February because it coincides Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (NAACP, 2024).

Woodson, with the help of the members of the ASALH, initiated the inaugural trend of an annual theme of the Black History Holiday (ASALH, 2024).

Eventually in 1976, after decades of tremendous work in increasing the acceptance recognition, and education of Black History Week for 50 years, the ASALH historically shifted National Black History Week to be celebrated as National Black History Month (NAACP, 2024)!

Learn More about Carter Woodson and his Legacy here!

Hidden Black Figures to learn about and acknowledge!

The term Hidden Figures is iconically coined from the Novel and Film, “Hidden Figures” (NASA, 2024). Hidden Figures is a biographical drama based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story is set in the 1950s and 1960s and it follows the true story of three African American women who worked for NASA as 'human computers' at the Langley Research Centre.

Learn more about NASA’s Hidden Figures, Katherine G. Johnson, Mary W. Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan!

We encourage you to use this month to learn about many hidden figures throughout black history and the black hidden figures that can be seen today!

We have listed a few below.

  • Marie M. Daly, First African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the U.S.
  • Marilyn Luper Hildreth, daughter of Civil Rights Giant, Clara Luper. Marilyn is still continuously fighting for equity and against injustices in Oklahoma today!
  • Alfre Woodard, a lifelong activist as well as being a well-known actress.
  • Matthew Henson, first African American arctic explorer, also rumored to be the first person to reach the north pole.
  • Earl Lloyd, first African American man allowed to play professional basketball for the NBA.
  • Hannah Atkins, first black woman elected to the Oklahoma House. She is an activist in civil rights, women’s rights, mental health reform, and child welfare.

How can I celebrate National Black History & Heritage Month in Oklahoma City?

We encourage you to attend the multitude of events that are happening around Oklahoma to celebrate Black History Month!

Ailey II presented by BLAC Inc. at OCCC

Visual and Performing Arts Center

7777 S May Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73159

7:30 p.m. Feb. 9, 2024

National Black Cowboy Award and Gala

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111

4 p.m. Feb. 10, 2024 (tickets required)

OCU ODEI & BSA to celebrate Black History & Heritage Month

Outside the Cafeteria, noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 13, 2024.

Join ODEI, Student Affairs, and Alumni Office for Lessons in Leadership with Clara Luper Legacy Committee as Panelist.

The Great Hall, 1 to 2 p.m. Feb. 20, 2024

Black Poet Slam at Ralph Ellison Library

2000 NE 23rd St, OK 73111, US

6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 2024

Eat at Black Owned Restaurants, Shop at Black Owned Businesses

Check out more activities available to attend in OKC to celebrate BHM!

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