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Black History Month

History of Black History Month

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Black History Month is a time to recognize the individuals, achievements, legacies and immeasurable contributions of Black Americans. Also known as African-American History Month, this annual observance started long before it was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford.

Celebrate Black History Month

The predecessor of Black History Month was created in 1926 by historian Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Dr. Woodson (the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard) established the second week of February as “Negro History Week” – choosing this time because it coincided with the birth of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14). “Negro History Week” grew in popularity over the following decades, with mayors around the country endorsing it as a holiday.

The idea of Black History Month was proposed in 1969 at Kent State University by Black educators and students, and the first celebration took place there the following year. By the time President Ford encouraged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” in 1976, Black History Month was being celebrated at educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers all over the country.

Now, Black History Month is celebrated annually in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. Each year has a theme, and the theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness.

Black History Month Events in Oklahoma City

Are you in Oklahoma City and interested in getting more involved in celebrating Black History Month? We’ve compiled a list of a few events taking place in the city this month:

This month and beyond, consider shopping at Black-owned businesses, dining at Black-owned restaurants, reading books, articles, etc. written by Black writers, and supporting Black-owned companies and organizations in whatever way you are able.

Resources for learning about Black history

Besides celebrating and recognizing Black Americans, Black History Month is also a great opportunity for people who aren’t Black to get educated on Black American history and the challenges Black Americans still face.