It is February, the month of love! It is also Black History Month.
There is no better way to celebrate February and express love than recognizing and appreciating African Americans’ contributions to the United States history. This is an excellent time to express love and support for the Black community’s culture, traditions, and histories.
Black History Month is an annual national celebration of African American achievements and a time to recognize their main roles in the US. This month, we explore the accomplishments and stories of African Americans throughout our nation’s history.
We also honor all the Blacks living in the US today, not forgetting the sacrifices and contributions of those enslaved back in the 17th century after being brought over from Africa. Black History Month also allows us to celebrate our rich cultural heritage, adversities, and triumphs that contribute to the country’s legacy.
What’s 2023’s Black History Month theme?
The national theme of 2023’s Black History Month is “Black resistance.”
This theme highlights how African-Americans have fought against oppression and racial inequality. Blacks have been resilient in the fight against historic and ongoing oppression in different areas, especially in racial pogroms, police killings, and racial terrorism.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, America was defined by resistance actions such as walkouts, boycotts and strikes by Blacks and White supporters as they fought against discrimination in all social sectors. Black people fought to ensure that the nation lived up to its ideals of providing freedom, liberty, and justice to all.
Over the years, they have sought ways to protect and nurture Black lives through voluntary emigration, armed resistance, nonviolent protest, literature, education, media, and politics. On the other hand, Black-led affiliations and institutions have lobbied, legislated, litigated, protested, and finally achieved success.
What’s the Story Behind the Black History Month?
The story of Black History Month dates back to 1915, 50 years after the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the US. During that year, Minister Jesse E Moorland and the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting Black Americans’ achievements and other individuals with African heritage.
In 1926, ASNLH, which would later be renamed as Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), sponsored a national Negro History Week. The group chose the 2nd week of February to coincide with Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. The event inspired communities and schools to organize local celebrations, host lectures, and performances, and establish history clubs to celebrate Blacks.
In the following decades, city mayors established yearly proclamations to recognize “Negro History Week.” By the late 1960s, there was more following on the civil rights movement and awareness of Black identity. In 1969 Black United Students (BUS) demanded that Kent State extend the Negro History Week to a full month of Black history celebrations.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford affirmed the actions of BUS by recognizing Black History Month s official celebrations. He went further to call the public to honor Black Americans’ undeniable accomplishments and contributions in all areas of growth throughout American history.
Today, we celebrate Black History Month by honoring the legacy and contributions of Blacks in the history of the US. Some African American leaders recognized for their major contributions towards black liberation include Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X.
Great Leaders from Black History
Martin Luther King jr. (1929-1968).
Did you know that Martin Luther King jr. is considered one of the greatest orators of modern times, and his speeches are still inspiring to many?
Martin Luther King was an American civil rights activist who fought for economic and racial justice in the US. He played a major role in the civil rights movement and is popular for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
King led nonviolent protests in the fight for the rights of all individuals, including African Americans. He believed that America and the world could form a society that would not discriminate against people based on their rights.
When did Martin Luther give his “I Have a Dream” speech?
King helped to organize the “March on Washington” in 1963. The march was attended by over 250,000 people in support of civil rights legislation. It hoped to accomplish various issues, including ending segregation in public schools, preventing police abuse, and eliminating employment discrimination.
Martin Luther gave the “I have a Dream” speech during this march. The speech would become one of the most famous speeches not just in the US but across the world. The March on Washington became successful, causing The Civil Rights Act to be passed in 1964.
Fun Facts about Martin Luther king
- Martin Luther King Jr. was named after a protestant reformation leader Martin Luther.
- Every 3rd Monday of the year is a federal holiday in the US to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Luther King.
- Very gifted King joined the college at age 15 after skipping grades 9 and 12.
- He was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- There are more than 730 streets in America named after Martin Luther king.
- Martin Luther went to jail 29 times.
Malcolm X (1925-1965).
Malcolm X was a minister, civil rights activist, political dissident, and a great supporter of Black Nationalism. He encouraged his fellow Blacks to protest, using any means necessary, against white aggression. This stance put him at odds with Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent teachings. Like King, Malcolm gained national prominence due to his great oratory and charisma skills.
Malcolm’s goal was to fight for the rights of African Americans because of the racial abuse he and his family faced. He spoke passionately at big events and gatherings, so many people listened and believed his messages. Malcolm disagreed with King’s ambition of a society where Blacks and White people lived in cohesion.
10 Quick Facts about Malcolm X
- Malcolm was born on May 19, 1925, and his birth name was Malcolm Little.
- He grew up in foster homes after his mother had a nervous breakdown.
- His mother was Grenadian and spoke nine languages fluently.
- Malcolm dropped out of school after his tech told him that Black people could not be lawyers.
- He was jailed for six and a half years in 3 Massachusetts state prisons.
- He went to prison after committing various burglaries and converted to Islam while in prison.
- Malcolm continued to visit inmates and prisoners after his release from prison.
- He was a feminist who fought for women’s equality and inclusion in Black Nationalist projects.
- He visited the Middle East and Africa before his Hajji
- Malcolm X was assassinated at 39 years by rival Black Muslims.
Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005).
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist credited for sparking the civil rights movement and inspiring the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she refused to give her bus seat to a white male in Montgomery, Alabama. The boycott’s success instigated nationwide efforts to end racial segregation in public facilities.
Fun Facts about Rosa Parks
- Rosa Parks’ father was a carpenter, and her mother was a teacher. Her ancestry included Scots-Irish, Native American, and African.
- She was among 7% of African-Americans who graduated with a high school diploma.
- She became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement in December 1943.
- Park and her husband were active members of the Women Voters League.
- She published her autography, Rosa Parks: My Story, in 1992.
Thurgood Marshall became the first Black man appointed as a Supreme Court Justice in the US. He served in the court between 1967 and 1991 after being appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. As a Supreme Court judge, he gained a reputation for improving civil rights and protecting Americans from an oppressive system.
His most famous case was Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), where he successfully argued that educational facilities that discriminated against students by race were unequal. As a lawyer, Marshall won more cases before the Supreme Court than any other lawyer in American history.
Other Key African Americans Leaders in the Black History:
- Jack Johnson
Jack Jackson was the first African American man Heavyweight Champion. He held the World Heavyweight Champion title in 1908 as the first African American and held onto the belt until 1915.
- John Mercer Langston
Langston was the first African American in 1854 when he passed in Ohio. He also became one of the first African Americans to be elected to public office in America.
- George Washington Carver
George Washington became famous for being the first Black eminent scientist. He developed 300 products from peanuts, including coffee, cheese, flour, milk, plastics, dyes, ink, linoleum, soap, cosmetics, and oils.
- Hiram Rhodes Revels
He became the first Black American ever elected as a US senator. He represented Mississippi State in the US senate between 1870 to early 1871.
- Shirley Chisholm
Chisholm became the first African American Woman to be elected as a woman representative. She represented New York State in the House of Representatives in 1968. In 1972, she became the first African American woman to vie for the presidency using a major party.
- Madam C. J. Walker
Walker rose from a humble beginning to a self-made millionaire. Despite being born on a cotton plantation, she successfully built a lot of wealth after inventing a line of hair care products. Her popularity grew after establishing Madame C. J. Walker Laboratories.
- Hattie McDaniel
McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar award. She won the Academy Award in 1940 after portraying a loyal slave governess in “Gone with the Wind.”
- Jackie Robinson
He became the first professional African American Baseball player. Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball in 1947 and led the league that season.
- Kamala Devi Harris
Kamala Harris is an American attorney and politician who became the first Asian-American female vice president. Besides being the current vice president, she is also the highest-ranking female official in the history of America.
President Barrack Obama in the Black History
Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential candidate to get the nomination of a major party known as the Democrats. He was elected as the 44th president of America, and he won more votes than any other candidate.
Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and unity between all people. Only four American presidents had ever won the prize. He will be remembered for working hard to bring equality and peace not just in the United States but worldwide. Besides the presidency, Barack Obama became the first Black editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1991.
Quick Facts about Barrack Obama
- President Obama’s birth name was Barrack Hussein Obama II.
- He was born on Aug. 4, 1961.
- The name Barrack means “Blessed one” in Swahili.
- He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- He became the 44th president of the United States.
- He was the first Black person to take the presidential office in the United States.
- He took office at 47, becoming the 5th youngest American President to hold office.
- President Obama considers Martin Luther King Jr., Pablo Picasso, and John Coltrane as his heroes.
8 Amazing Ways to Celebrate the Black History Month
1. Learn about the Black History
Black history is all around us, but you can easily miss it. You will be amazed to learn about historical black influencers in your locality. You could also visit local museums that showcase the contributions of African Americas in your locality. You can further learn about Black history by visiting historical societies or local libraries.
Find out how black history influences your presence before spreading that knowledge to people around you.
2. Support Black-Owned Businesses
You can support Black history month by becoming a customer of Black businesses. By doing that, you will help protect their livelihood and improve their entrepreneurs. Spending money at a black-owned business is one of the greatest forms of economic empowerment.
Here are ways you can support Black-owned businesses:
- Be intentional about finding, visiting, and shopping at a Black-owned business
- Write positive reviews about the Black-owned business and share the reviews on public platforms.
- To commend friends and families (in-person and on social media) for purchasing from Black-owned businesses.
- Seek a Black-owned credit union or bank for your credit cards, loans, and deposit accounts.
- Invest in Black community businesses.
3. Donate to Black Charities and Nonprofit Organizations
Racial justice activities work hard all year round, advocating for equal treatment of African-Americans among other minority groups. They also work hard to improve the well-being of the Black community while creating better economic opportunities for them.
Nonprofit organizations and charity groups require reliable funding to run their operations effectively. Your monetary contributions to such organizations can help fund programs and pay salaries and costs that keep the organization running. You can consider giving a monthly contribution over giving a lump sum.
4. Attend Black History Month Events
Many schools, local organizations, and cities host events to celebrate Black history month. Check your city website or the local newspaper to find events in your locality. You can also find interesting activities online if you don’t want to attend in-person events. For example, you can find interesting documentaries and movies exploring Black history on Disney Plus, Netflix, among other streaming services.
5. Support Black Artists
Black creatives, including musicians, poets, and artists, play a major role in creating and retaining the black culture.
During this month, you can celebrate Black History by supporting the artistic expression of the African American community and their culture’s importance. You can champion Black creatives by buying their work, attending their events, and rewarding them for their efforts.
6. Become a Mentor
There is no better way to celebrate Black History Month than by inspiring someone. You can help a Black child or a younger coworker to reach their full potential through mentorship. By encouraging the passion, skill or talent of a black young adult or youth, you will help support the next generation of Black leaders who will uplift their communities and fight inequalities.
7. Explore Black Literature
Literature allows marginalized communities to claim ownership of their experiences and stories, whether fiction or nonfiction. There is no doubt; the literary work of Blacks is not as celebrated as white authors’ work.
This month you can swap some of your favorite literature with modern reads from black authors. You can also commit to supporting black writers’ work beyond Black History Month.
8. Cook Special African-American Cuisines
You can research and cook traditional cuisines from mainly Black countries. You can enjoy cooking together as a family by exploring various African dishes and recipes from Nigeria, South Africa, Jamaica, Haiti, and South Africa, and Southern America.
Ensure you actively involve your kids in finding recipes and shopping for ingredients. Research and discuss the histories of these dishes to enlighten your kids about African culture and improve their cooking skills.
10 Famous Black History Month Quotes
- “Black history isn’t a separate history. This is all of our histories, this is American history, and we need to understand that. It impacts kids, their values, and how they view black people.” – Karyn Parsons.
- “Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
- “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” —Desmond Tutu.
- “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum hatred for a minimum of reason.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel.
- “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” – Angela Davis
- “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X.
- “The thing about black history is that the truth is much more complex than anything you could make up.” – Henry Louis Gates.
- “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” —Coretta Scott King.
Ten Black History Month Trivia Questions:
When did Martin Luther give his famous “I Have A Dream” speech?
Answer: Sept. 9, 1965
Which President was the first to recognize Black History Month officially?
Answer: President Gerald Ford
Whose words are these? “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Answer: Frederick Douglass
What is Madam C.J. Walker famous for?
Answer: She was the first American female to become a self-made millionaire through her cosmetic company.
What is Jackie Robinson famous for?
Answer: He was the first African American person to play Major League Baseball.
Which Amendment abolished slavery?
Answer: The 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Who was the first African American woman in space?
Answer: Mae Jemison
What did Rosa Parks refuse to do in 1955?
Answer: She refused to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery.
In which capacity did Barack Obama serve before becoming the President of the US (2009-2017?
Answer: US Senator
Who wrote the “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” memoir?
Answer: Maya Angelou
Before you go…
We, Kids on the Yard, wish you an amazing Black History Month. We believe families (regardless of their racial background), like life, evolve into a dream of fulfillment. Our children, parents, educators, coaches, and tutors are all about being on the same team.