The observation of Black History Month dates back to 1915, when Carter G. Woodson, now known as the “Father of Black History” created an organization called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In 1926, Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February.
Also known as African American History Month, it was first observed by students and faculty at Kent State University in 1970. In 1976 it evolved into a month-long celebration in 1976 and became a national holiday when President Gerald Ford recognized “the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” in a speech to mark the United States Bicentennial.
It is a time for all Americans to reflect on both the history and teachings of African Americans, and to focus on the progress, richness and diversity of African American achievements.
This year’s theme for Black History Month, “Black Health and Wellness”, takes a look at how American healthcare has often underserved the African American community.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has recently shown, a widespread disparity of access to quality healthcare negatively impacts outcomes for blacks and other minorities.
It was only into the 20th century when Black America was given a better chance at institutional health care. That’s when the US government threatened to withhold Medicare payments to ‘Whites Only” medical institutions and — almost overnight — hospitals were desegregated. The year was 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
How to Observe Black History Month
Visit a Museum
History comes alive in a nation’s museums, and many venues have events, conferences and celebrations surrounding Black History Month. Visit an event to learn about our Nation’s collective history.
Contact an Elected Official
One of the best ways to have a positive impact on our communities by contacting member of Congress. Ask what specific legislative actions are planned to ensure that our communities continue to ensure opportunities for each and every person.
Visit a library or bookstore and find a book about a piece of Black history that you were previously unaware.