Celebrating Black History Month


Faith Burick & Alexia Falba

Black History Month, starting on February 1st and ending on March 1st, is an annual observance that originated in the United States. This time is all about learning and remembering important people and events of African Americans. In the United States and Canada, this month is celebrated in February, while in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands, it is observed in October. Carter G. Woodson is the man behind the start of this appreciation. He believed that African Americans were not taught enough about their own heritage. In 1926, the first Negro History Week was announced. The month of February was chosen because the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were celebrated. They were two prominent men that each had historic achievements. Quickly, schools and organizations across the country embraced Woodson´s enterprise. Black History Month was nationally recognized in 1976 when President Gerald Ford called for it to be a national observance. 


Some people recognized this month are:

  • Martin Luther King Jr.- a civil rights leader, an American Baptist minister, and the most visible spokesperson of the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 up until he was assassinated in 1968. He is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Malcolm X- an African American Muslim minister and a human rights activist, was a popular figure during the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his time spent as a vocal spokesman for the Nation of Islam, up until he was assassinated at only 40 years old. 
  • Maya Angelou- an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She received dozens of awards and over 50 honorary degrees. Maya is best known for her acclaimed memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969. 
  • Jackie Robinson- an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in the major leagues. He broke the baseball color line when he started first base on April 15, 1947, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. To celebrate Robinson´s 50th anniversary of his first game, his number 42 was permanently retired in major league baseball.  
  • Barack Obama- an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president. He became the first African-American President of the United States from his term in 2009-2017. 
  • Claudette Colvin- a pioneer of the 1950s civil rights movement and retired nurse aide. On March 2, 1955, she was arrested at the age of 15 for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. 
  • Marsha P Johnson-  was an American gay liberation activist and a drag queen. She was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall riots in 1969 and one of the first drag queens to go into the Stonewall Inn, once they began allowing drag queens and women inside.
  • Harriet Tubman- an American political activist and abolitionist. She was born into slavery and managed to escape, to then helping others escape by using the Underground Railroad. Despite the efforts of the slaveholders, Harriet was never caught and never lost anyone on the way.
  • Sojourner Truth- a woman’s rights activist and abolitionist. She was born into slavery but was able to escape with her infant daughter in 1826. In 1828, she went to court to recover her son where she became the first black woman to ever win such a case against a white man. 
  • Booker T. Washington- was an American educator, author, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. He was born into slavery in 1856 and rose to become a leader in the African American community. He founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in 1881 and was remembered for accommodating white supremacy as much as he was known for uplifting his race.


During this month, there are plenty of resources for people to learn and read about Black history. While the month of February sheds light on recognizing Black history, it is essential to always be willing to research and learn about all that African Americans have done in the past, and still continue to do today. To be more educated on Black history you can use the internet, read books, or watch movies. Some good books are The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs, Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi, and Keisha N. Blain, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and Slavery in the Age of Memory by Ana Lucia Araujo. Some movies to watch are One Night in Miami, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, The Black Power Mixtape, Malcolm X, and 13th. Every Black History Month has a main theme. This year’s theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”. Last year’s theme was “African Americans and the Vote” and next year’s theme will be “Black Health and Wellness”.