February DEI: Black History Month

Black History Month
Written by Yolanda A. Garcia, CP, PLS, TBLS-BCP
February DEI

Every February people across the United States celebrate Black History Month. It is a special time to reflect on more than 400 years of African American heritage and how it has shaped both the country and the world. While many people are familiar with Black History Month and the celebrations that take place across the nation, they may not know why we celebrate Black Americans’ contributions in February.  

Part of the reason for the celebration is because of the birthdays of two people who had a significant influence on African American history. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, was born on February 12. Abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass was born on February 14. Since their deaths, the Black community has celebrated their legacies on their birthdays. 

Another reason February was chosen started back in 1915 when American historian Carter G. Woodson was inspired by a three-week celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. More than a decade later he launched “Negro History Week” in February 1926. From the 1940s to the 1960s more and more communities began celebrating Black history in February. By 1976 it was so widespread that U.S. President Gerald Ford encouraged all Americans to observe Black History Month. Every president since has done the same.  

Many people don’t realize that each year Black History Month has a special theme. The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. It focuses on the contributions of Black scholars and medical practitioners, as well as how American healthcare has underserved the Black community. 

The proclamation for National Black History Month 2022 can be found at A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2022 | The White House.