Black History

Today kicks off the start of Black History Month.  Notes to Women looks forward to celebrating women of color who have left their indelible mark in our world.

We will highlight women from all walks of life who have made a difference in our lives and have changed history. 

In the United States, this year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History.” African-American women are honored for the many roles they played in shaping the United States.

I came across the BET website which gives us a breakdown of Black History month.  Here are some of the questions and answers.

What is Black History Month? 

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time to recognize the central role of African-Americans in U.S. History.

 When is Black History Month recognized?

 Black History Month is recognized the entire month of February.

 When Did Black History Month Begin?  

According to the Library of Congress, the story of Black History Month dates back to1915, a half century after the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery in the United States was adopted. That year, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting the achievements of people of African-decedent. Starting in 1926, the group chose the second week of February to sponsor a national Negro history week to celebrate the accomplishments of Blacks, and to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

 How Long has the Month been Nationally Recognized? 

In the early 1970s, “Negro History Week” was rechristened “Black History Week” to reflect the changing language used to describe African-Americans. Years later, starting in 1976, the celebration was expanded to a month and President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every U.S. President has officially designated the entire month of February as Black History Month. 

Is the U.S. the Only Country to Observe Black History Month? 

No, countries around the world including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black History.

Is There a Need to Still Celebrate Black History Month?

Over the years, and especially in a period of time that many right-wing republicans are calling a “post-racial, age of Obama,” critics argue there is no longer a need to dedicate an entire month to the accomplishments of Black Americans. The reality is, however, that despite the end of slavery, the contributions of Blacks are largely, still not documented. Black History Month serves as an opportunity for schools and communities nationwide to organize and host lectures and presentations on the history of Blacks−information often left out of textbooks.

How Can I Learn More About History?

 Through information provided by the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Smithsonian Institution, a sampling of material related to African-American history is available online.

What do you plan to celebrate Black History Month?  I plan to colour printables of African American heroes and heroines with my son.  I will give him a brief history lesson of each person as we colour. offers these tips:

Some people wonder why Black History Month…why not just history month of all races?  The purpose of Black History Month is to teach African Americans and other races about the positive contributions made by African Americans.  This is a way of exploring, embracing and celebrating diversity and culture. 

Here in Canada Caribana happens every year during the Civic Holiday weekend.  People from the United States, the Caribbean, South America and other countries flock to celebrate this cultural event.  It is North America’s oldest and largest Caribbean festival.  From August 31-September 3 Toronto has the Hispanic Fiesta.  We celebrate our differences.  Having a month or a festival or a fiesta is not meant to exclude other races or cultures or insinuate that they are less important.   On the contrary, Black History Month is about taking pride in the accomplishments of those who have contributed to society and humanity.  

We have come a long way but we still have a ways to go.  Celebrate Black History month with you family.  Remember those who never lived to see the end of slavery or the civil rights’ movement or an African American man take the President’s office.  Encourage your child to dream.  Keep the hope alive that one day, our society will be color blind.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.  I rise.  I rise.  I rise.  ~Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise,” And Still I Rise ~
Maya Angelou

This being Black History Month, I would like to ask people to celebrate the similarities and not focus on the differences between people of color and not of color.  ~Lynn Swann

Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead.  The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I had no idea that history was being made.  I was just tired of giving up.  ~Rosa Parks

When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything.  ~Harriet Tubman, on her first escape from slavery, 1845

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.  And so today I still have a dream.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.






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