Honoring Black History Month

Jenna Trott

5 min read | FEBRUARY 1, 2023

Black History Month has its roots planted in the early 20th century, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) enacted a week of recognition back in February 1926. Over time, there were calls and petitions to lengthen the week of celebration, and by 1976, the month of February was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford as Black History Month. Since then, Black History Month has continued to evolve and grow; while we sustain recognition of the extraordinary people and events in Black history, we also celebrate the rich cultural heritage and reflect upon the ongoing challenges of systemic racism and oppression for Black people in America and everywhere. By recognizing, honoring, and celebrating Black History Month, we pay tribute to both the sacrifices and contributions Black people have made throughout history, and reaffirm our commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable society for all. Here are a few ways you can honor and celebrate Black History — not just this month, but all year round!
Learn From Both the Past and Present

When you hear “Black History Month,” who are some central figures that come to mind? For many, the life and legacy of leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou or Frederick Douglass are at the forefront. But there are so many other people, both past and present, who have helped close the gaps of racial equity. Click here to learn more about Black men and women who have contributed to the shaping of African American history.

Support Black Owned Businesses

There are many barriers to running a successful business, but particularly so for Black individuals who often face the added obstacle of structural racism. Black people account for 12.8% of the total U.S. population, yet only 2.4% of businesses are Black-owned. Shopping at Black-owned businesses in 2023 is a small step we can take toward acknowledging, supporting and advocating for their continued contributions. Check out this awesome list of Black-owned businesses to shop from, now and forever!

Support Organizations

Become familiar with different organizations and charities that are dedicated to advocacy and racial equity. The work they do is essential, not only to address critical healthcare, education, and economic disparities, but also to work toward creating a more equitable and just society. Organizations like the ones featured below are dependent on donations as a way to continue their meaningful work.

Center for Black Equity: Founded in 1999, the Center for Black Equity has been committed to supporting leaders, institutions, and programs for health, economic, and social equity for LGBTQ+ people of African descent.

Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD): BOLD is an African American-led nonprofit organization focused on transforming the practice of Black organizers in the U.S. to increase their alignment, impact, and sustainability to create progressive changes. BOLD carries out its mission through training programs, coaching and technical assistance for BOLD alumni and partners.

Black Women for Wellness: Black Women for Wellness (BWW) was founded in 1997 to protect Black children and mothers. Today, Black Women for Wellness “is committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment, and advocacy.”

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

For a more comprehensive list of Black-led non-profit organizations, click here.

Law fellows at Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) / eji.org

Read and Share Black Voices

Storytelling, a practice as old as the human race itself, helps people connect with each other on a deeper level, build empathy and offer new ways of understanding. But storytelling can also offer new perspectives, serving as a vital tool for personal and societal growth. Celebrate and share these memoirs by Black authors:

For more inspiration on what to read next, click here.

American writer, James Baldwin / newyorker.com

Read “The 1619 Project”

The 1619 Project is an idea conceived by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and project creator Nikole Hannah Jones, and brought to life by The New York Times Magazine. Beginning in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery, the 1619 project aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative

Attend Events

There’s no shortage of events celebrating and honoring Black History Month! Check your local news outlets to see what’s going on in your area. Additionally, check out what virtual events are happening. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) hosts a number of virtual events and conversations throughout the month of February that are typically free and acknowledge and preserve the accomplishments of Black Americans.

As we celebrate this month, remember, Black History Month is not just a celebration of the past, but a call to action for the present and future, reminding us to continue the fight for equality and to uplift the voices and stories of Black people in all aspects of society.

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