Black History Month is also commonly called African American History Month. The history of Black History Month comes from the need for a month that celebrates the achievements of African American women and men. Dr. Carter Woodson conceived of the idea for Black History Month. Dr. Woodson was born in 1875, the son of former slaves, and he received a PhD from Harvard University in 1912. During his studies, he noted that there was a lack of information on and celebration of the role of African Americans in American history. Correcting this omission became a passion of his and in 1915 he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life (later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). In 1926 he started the first Negro History Week (later renamed African American History Week). He chose the second week of February for the timing of this celebration, as it was the same month of the birth of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Lincoln and Douglas were both instrumental figures involved in the fight to end slavery, and Dr. Woodson thought that this made it a fitting time period to host the celebration of African American history. Since 1928 each week, and now each month, has had a theme that has helped those people who are organizing Black History months focus on one main topic within the vast subject area of African American history.
In 1975 Black History Week gained national recognition when President Gerald Ford issued a proclamation about the observance of Black History Week. In 1976, the weeklong celebration was expanded into a month. The first celebration of the Black History Month was held at Kent State. President Ford recognized the month as time to “review with admiration the impressive contributions of Black Americans to our national life and culture”. Future Presidents would continue to recognize Black History Month, but it did not become an official month until 1986 when Congress passed the Public Law 99-244 (National Black (Afro-American) History Month). President Reagan explained the purpose of the celebration of African American/Black History Month: “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity… and it is to celebrate the many achievements of African Americans in every field from science and the arts to politics and religion." Congress has passed additional legislation celebrating Black History Month and the accomplishment of African Americans in the United States.
Click for Quotes by famous Blacks and African Americans
Black History Month is celebrated each February in the United States. Black History Month is celebrated in Canada in February and it is celebrated in October in the United Kingdom.
During the months of January and February, we highlight important people and events from Black History on our Global Voice Blog. Click here to browse the articles of our series:
Wilma Rudolph (Click here to read more on Wilma Rudolph)
Jackie Robinson (Click here to read more on Jackie Robinson)
Josephine Baker(Click here to read more on Josphine Baker)
Aretha Franklin (Click here to read more on Aretha Franklin)
Zora Neale Hurston (Click here to read more on Zora Neale Hurston)
The purpose of Black History Month is to celebrate and honor the history of African Americans and to recognize the important contributions that they have made to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Each year a different theme is chosen and highlighted for Black History Month. The theme of Black History Month 2013 is: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality. This year is a particularly significant Black History Month as it is both the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Increasingly companies are recognizing Black History Month through their diversity program. If the company has a Black or African American employee resource group or business resource group, this group will often lead the celebrations, but the celebrations may also be coordinated as part of a larger company wide awareness program on diversity topics.
Culture Coach International is pleased to announce the creation of engaging, educational and fun activities and tools to help companies celebrate Black History Month. These tools are created with the professional workplace in mind and they provide a way to engage employees by ensuring that the content presented is balanced and fun, while also addressing topics that raise awareness about issues important to the African American and Black community.
The tools developed include the:
This timeline comes in a full and abridged version. Both versions engage participants in a timeline activity, but the depth of the discussions and education learned is different for both sizes.
Full Version: Designed for Facilitated Conversations
The large size is 12 feet long and it showcases events important in African American history parallel to the traditional American history that many Americans are taught in school. In addition, the larger timeline comes with 50 playing cards with chronological facts that participants can place on the timeline where they think they belong. Using the facilitator’s guide, a facilitator is able to guide participants through discussions about what they learn from using the timeline, what key areas of focus are and how the timeline helps us to better understand the African American experience in the US.
Abridged Version: Individual or Small Group Interaction
The smaller timeline measures just 4.5 feet long and brings together key facts from both the timeline and the cards that are used in the larger timeline. This smaller timeline is great for posting as an educational tool that employees can read by themselves and it is also a great tool for smaller groups discussions. The smaller timeline comes with sample discussion questions and a brief facilitator’s guide.
This version of the timeline is available in both vinyl and paper.
Sample People and Events Highlighted in the Timeline:
-Oprah Winfrey (Click here to read more on Oprah Winfrey)
-Madame CJ Walker (Click here to read more on Madame CJ Walker)
-Brown vs. Board of Education (Click here to read more on the Brown v. Board National Historic Site)
This Black History Month activity focuses on the achievements of 25 African American men and women who had an important impact upon the United States. The activity features 25 one-page biographies of African Americans with an accompanying 2-page scavenger hunt which asks one question for each biography. Each participant in this activity receives a 2-page scavenger hunt list as well as one biography. They move around interviewing other people until they find the answers to each of their scavenger hunt questions. Employees who participate in this Black History Month activity are able to learn about great African Americans, while networking and interacting with their colleagues. If desired, a short facilitated discussion can close out this activity and can provide participants with the opportunity to share more about their particular biography.
Sample People Highlighted in the Biographies:
-Madame CJ Walker (Click here to read more on Madame CJ Walker)
- Frederick Douglas, Paul Cuffee, Althea Gibson, Ralph Bunche, Reginald F. Lewis, Phillis Wheatley, Rosa Parks, Lo
uis Armstrong and many more!
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