A Brief Guide To Black History Month

A Brief Guide To Black History Month

Black History Month is a yearly event held in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  The month is a time when people remember important people and events from the history of the African diaspora.  Black History Month takes place in February in Canada and the United States and in October in the United Kingdom.  However, the origins of this observance can be traced back to 1926.

Roots for Black History Month

In 1926 the predecessor to Black History Month was introduced by the historian Cater Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro History.  Negro History Week was held during the second week of February because it coincided with the birthday of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.  The dates of their birth had been historically celebrated by the African communities in America since the late 19th century.

The initial phase of the event was to encourage the teaching of the history of African communities in America within the public school system.  The response to this event was mixed, but was claimed a success and would be repeated each year. At the time of the event’s launch Woodson stated that teaching the history of the community was essential to the intellectual and physical survival of the race within society.

By 1929 the event was accepted across the country due to the distribution of official literature regarding the event.  A significant role in this distribution was played by the churches and helped to make the event a mainstream one.  The event continued to grow in popularity with mayors all over the United States endorsing the event.

The Creation Of Black History Month

The student leaders at Kent State University were the first to propose that Black History Week be transformed into Black History Month is 1969.  The first Black History Month was held a year later at the University.  However, it was only in 1976 that the expansion was made official as part of the Unites States Bicentennial.

Events In The United Kingdom

Black History Month was first held in the United Kingdom in 1987 and was organized by the Ghanaian Akyaaba Addai-Sebo.  Addai-Sebo was an event coordinator for special projects in the Greater London Council.  The event was first held in London and spread to the rest of the country after this.


Events In Canada

Black History Month was first held in Canada in 1995 after a motion by Jean Augustine who represented an area of Ontario.  The Canadian House of Commons officially recognized the event and stated that it was to be held in February.  The Senate officially recognized the event in 2008.

Criticism Of Black History Month

Each year there is debate over the continued usefulness of Black History Month and the fairness of having a month dedicated to the history of a single race.  Some of the criticism states that it is inappropriate to confine the celebration of black history to a single month of the year and that it should be better integrated into mainstream history teaching.

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