February 1st marks the start of Black History Month, a time in which we honor the contributions of those that have made an impact on the Black community. However, this celebration should not be contained to only the month of February as we should be celebrating the Black community all year round. Do you know about the origins of Black History Month? (If you already do, we praise you!) If not, it is never too late to educate yourself! Here are 5 facts you may not know about Black History Month:
1) The celebration of Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. The celebration originally began as “Negro History Week”. In 1976, it turned into a month-long celebration when President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month and called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
2) Why February? The month of February was chosen to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass’s birthday. These two men held historic achievements for the Black community.
3) Every year, a theme is chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This year’s theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” which aims to explore the wide-ranging diversity of Black family life. Learn more here: https://asalh.org/black-history-themes/
4) The practice of celebrating Black History Month originated in America. Although other countries have adopted the holiday and started celebrating. In Canada, they celebrate in the month of February as well, while in countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Ireland, they celebrate in October.
5) Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Maya Angelou's 40th birthday, on April 4, 1968. The two were friends during the Civil Rights Era. After this terrible event, Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers to King's widow, Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years, until Coretta's death in 2006.
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