February! Here comes Black History Month!
Black history month is an annual month-long observance that honors the contributions of African Americans to the history of the United States. This annual event has received official recognition from the United States government and Canada and most recently has received recognition from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs, and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history. The month offers us a chance to look into the history of African Americans beyond the usual narrative of racism and slavery to straight-up black excellence.
The theme was the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson who came up with the idea of Negro History Week in 1926. Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) to research and promote the achievements of Black Americans and other people of Black descent. The history month began to be officially celebrated in the United States in 1976. President Gerald Ford called upon the general public to honor the too-often overlooked accomplishments of Black Americans in the history of America.
The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. It seeks to explore "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well (History, 2022). "
The healthcare system is plagued with disparities that often see African Americans discriminated against. Black folks are now embarking on self-determination, mutual aid, and social support initiatives to build hospitals, medical and nursing schools. These institutions are set to counter the economic and health disparities and discrimination found in mainstream institutions. By educating more black folk, there will be diversity in the medical field, and the African American community will have representation from people who are like them, who understand them.
The Black Health and Wellness theme also strongly focuses on the emotional and mental health of the African American community. Social media and podcasts, such as The Read, hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury have normalized talking about mental health issues and going to therapy as well as initiatives such as Therapy for Black Girls (ASALH, 2022). There is also more talk on holding down, supporting, and fiercely fighting for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community of African Americans.
In this age and century, especially the Black Millenials, this month-long celebration offers them a chance to imagine the endless possibilities that lie ahead for them and the community in general. They come from greatness, and they can give rise to even more Black Excellence.
As Lonnie G. Bunch III said (Tedeneke, 2022), “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering".
ASALH. (2022). BLACK HISTORY THEMES. Retrieved from Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH®): https://asalh.org/black-history-themes/
History. (2022, January 31). Black History Month. Retrieved from History: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
Tedeneke, A. (2022, January 27). Black History Month: What is it and why do we need it? Retrieved from World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/black-history-month-what-is-it-and-why-do-we-need-it/
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.