Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.
The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Woodson chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a famed abolitionist who escaped from slavery, and President Abraham Lincoln, who formally abolished slavery.
Carter G. Woodson, who is is often deemed as the father of Black History, realized how important it was to give the public a theme to focus on.
According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), a group started by Woodson, “The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.”
The theme of Black History Month for 2023 is Black Resistance. African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial programs, and police killings since their arrival upon these shores. This month explores The Arts, the Black Press and the Black Church. As the-late Congressman John Lewis advised, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.