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Black History Month: An Opportunity to Learn & Celebrate

Updated: May 7

What is Black History Month?


Black History Month, celebrated each February in the United States and Canada, is an opportunity to honor and amplify the stories of the Black community. It originated as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by scholar Carter G. Woodson, evolving 50 years later into a month-long celebration of the experiences and achievements of African Americans throughout history. 


During February we often hear about influential Black historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. It is also important to highlight the parts of history from scientists to teachers to trailblazers we don’t hear enough about and to continue dialogues on the roles Black culture and community play in society. It is a reminder of both the struggles and breakthroughs of Black Americans.


Why Is Black History Month Important?


While Black Americans and their achievements deserve to be honored every day of every month, setting aside a special period provides a platform some may not otherwise make. Black History Month serves not only as a celebration but also as a necessary time for reflection, focus and renewed action:


- To develop greater understanding and provide education around both the suffering and achievements spanning generations of African Americans; to see them not as exceptions to history but integral makers of history. 

- To have thoughtful discourse about systemic inequities still faced by Black communities related to health, education, employment, justice and beyond. 

- To evaluate our own mindsets and behaviors, and identify concrete ways, big and small, individuals and organizations can proactively support and advocate for the Black community rather than passively observe.

- To find inspiration from the stories of change-makers like Barbara Jordan, Muhammad Ali, or Madam C.J. Walker as well as everyday heroes overcoming injustice through resilience and grace.


The conversation continues year-round, but designated milestones provide moments to collectively pause, recognize how far we’ve come as a society, how far we have still to go, and reconsider where each one of us fits into that journey.


Celebrate Black History Month With These Ideas


Black History Month represents not just a commemorative period for reflection but also a call to action. Here are some simple ideas to help engage with and celebrate Black history and culture in February and beyond: 


• Read books, watch films, and listen to podcasts spotlighting critical issues and influential figures across genres and time periods

• Support Black creators, artists, causes and businesses by shopping and supporting events

• Amplify today’s inspiring Black voices across industries paving the way

• Have thoughtful dialogue on barriers faced by the Black community

• Examine and constructively challenge personal biases 

• Research local African American historical sites or museums to visit


Even small gestures, when multiplied by many, can positively impact communities. Black History Month reminds us we each have power to play a part in expanding understanding and compassion. Hopefully the stories, challenges, and triumphs it illuminates inspires year-long motivation to take considered actions for the benefit of humanity overall.

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