Black History Month has gone through a long transformation to get where it is today. The first murmurings of an extended celebration of African American history happened in 1915 on the anniversary of emancipation.
Carter G. Woodson was attending a celebration in Illinois which held stands of people, many of which carrying exhibits detailing the achievements of African Americans after the abolishment of slavery. While these exhibits were important and informative, they weren’t enough.
To Woodson, it seemed that there were really three celebrations to honor African Americans: the anniversary of emancipation, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and Fredrick Douglas’ birthday.
These celebrations seemed off for a couple of reasons. First, there should have been more time and effort devoted to understanding Black history. Second, Woodson believed that history was made by the people, not by the achievements of a few great men.
In response, he created Negro History Week in 1926. His creation sparked a great interest around the country, leading thousands of schools to incorporate his week into the curriculum and pay tribute to black history.
Eventually, In the midst of the civil rights movement, scattered college campuses began deeming February as Black History Month. Interest kept picking up steam, and President Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976.
Each Black History Month has had a theme. This year’s theme is “black migrations.” According to Augusta University, discussions this month should focus on “the movement of African Americans to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.”
Many events and celebrations will talk about the reality of the African diaspora and how it plays a part in the lives of African Americans today.
Celebrating Black History
There are a lot of ways that you can celebrate Black History Month. The most important thing, and the thing that Carter G. Woodson intended all those years ago, is for you to get informed about African American History and learn what you can do to apply what you learn in your life.
This means taking time to sit down with a book, watching informational movies, having conversations with people in your community, and reading up on the state of things today. Further, you can take segues as you learn, examining the art and culture of African Americans from different time periods.
You can also support groups that are making waves and fighting for equality for all. You may find that your customers are looking for ways to contribute to Black History Month as well.
Support African American non-profits and businesses. Donate to Black non-profit organizations this month, such as Black Girls Code, National Society of Black Engineers or try out Black-owned businesses you haven’t been shopped at before.
Integrating giving into your business and supporting non profit organizations like these is a lot easier when you do it with Pledgeling. Our Give & Grow platform can be added to your Shopify site in roughly 5 minutes and you can choose from 500+ partner organizations that directly support African Americans.