Black History Month: Why it is celebrated and the 2024 theme?

Black History Month: Why it is celebrated and the 2024 theme?

Black History Month, observed in February annually, stands as a powerful testament to the resilience, achievements, and contributions of the African American community throughout history. This month-long commemoration serves as a time to reflect on past challenges and accomplishments and a call to action for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Black History Month
Black History Month illustration image. Photo: Elena Sunagatova (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The Black History period is a moment of reflection, going beyond racism and slavery, giving great acknowledgement to Black achievements and the context under which such was and is still being achieved. What is the 2024 theme, and what is the primary intent of recognising this exceptional month?

Black History Month origin

What is Black History Month, and why is it celebrated? Annually, in February, people celebrate Black History Month. The United States recognises African Americans' pivotal role in U.S. history and culture during the annual celebration. But how did the commemoration start?

It all began a century ago, in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States of America. Carter G. Woodson (referred to as the father of Black history) and Jesse E. Moorland created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).

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The organisation was dedicated to researching and supporting achievements by Black Americans and other individuals of African origin. Later in 1926, Dr. Woodson founded Negro History Week, choosing the second week of February to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass' birthdays.

These two leaders were the most critical and significant in helping abolish slavery in the United States of America. The Negro History Week celebrated Black Americans' often-overlooked accomplishments and historical contributions.

How did it gain national recognition?

Black History Month
Black History Month banner. Photo: Viktoria Kurpas
Source: Getty Images

After the ASNLH created the Negro History Week, communities and schools all over the United States of America started to organise local celebrations. It even promoted the formation of history clubs and hosted performances and lectures.

A few years later, with the ideology going mainstream, mayors in different states started issuing proclamations acknowledging the week. As the civil rights movement gained traction in the 1960s, the demand for a more comprehensive exploration of Black history prompted the extension of Negro History Week into Black History Month.

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In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognised February as Black History Month, asking all Americans to "seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history."

After President Gerald recognised the month, every other president followed suit. Congress passed the National Black History Month into law in 1986, putting it officially on the calendar. The law intended to make all American citizens "aware of the struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.

Why is it celebrated?

The primary purpose of Black History Month is to educate students and young ones about Black Americans and their contributions to society. Previously, African American history was losing significance and was not an essential national narrative.

Today, people observe the month to honour African Americans' contributions to the United States and other regions of the world. Throughout the month, individuals learn more about Black history in light of the decade's technology advancements and social media popularity.

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What is the Black History theme?

During the commemoration of Black History Month every year, a theme is chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. What is the 2024 Black History Month theme? This year's theme is African Americans and the Arts.

African Americans have significantly impacted the visual and performing arts, language, fashion, literature, folklore, music, film, content creation, architecture, culinary arts, and other kinds of cultural expression. African American artists have used art to preserve history and cultural memory while empowering people.

People of African origin have spearheaded artistic and cultural movements such as the Black Arts, New Negro, Black Renaissance, Afrofuturism and hip-hop, which have established global standards for popular trends. The 2024 theme will focus on the diverse history and lives of African American artists and artisans.

What are the colours of Black History Month?

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Black History Month colours
Black, red, yellow, and green are the Black History Month colours. Photo: Synergee
Source: Getty Images

The Black History Month colours are black, red, green, and yellow. The red shade symbolises the blood that unites all individuals of Black African ancestry and the bloodshed after liberation.

Black signifies the African people, yellow denotes optimism and justice, and green represents the abundant natural wealth of Africa. Together, these colours embody the heritage, resilience, and aspirations of the African American community.

The colours are derived from the Pan-African flag, which was created in 1920 as a unifying symbol connecting individuals of African descent worldwide and the Ethiopian flag.

Do people celebrate Black History Month anywhere else?

Although Black History Month originated in the United States of America, it is celebrated in other countries. It has received official recognition from Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and even the Netherlands government. The U.K. (started celebrating in 1987), the Netherlands, and Ireland celebrate it in October.

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Who is famous in Black History Month?

Black History Month celebrates numerous iconic figures who have made a lasting impact on various fields. These notable people include civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, trailblazing artists like Maya Angelou, groundbreaking athletes like Muhammad Ali, and pioneering scientists like George Washington Carver.

Other nearly forgotten heroes and heroines are Claudette Colvin, Alice Coachman, and Shirley Chisholm, whom Black historians have been attempting to shed light on and pinpoint. These famous Black Americans in history also hold popular Black History Month quotes.

How many Black History Month facts have you familiarised yourself with? As the Black community honours the legacy of Black history, embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to a society that cherishes diversity and equality.

Yen.com.gh recently published an article on 100+ Happy Valentine's wishes and quotes you can send to loved ones. Valentine's Day is celebrated on 14 February every year. This is a time when people celebrate love and romance.

It is a special time to spread love and joy with those around you. Discover unique and heartfelt wishes and messages for your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, daughter, son, family members, and friends.

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Simon Ayub Simon Ayub is an adept content strategist and writer who generates content mainly focusing on the Facts and Life Hacks category. With over half a decade of creating relatable content for various brands, Simon has amassed sufficient knowledge to give every website a palpable spark – ample precedence for an ever-growing audience. Simon holds a BSc in Agricultural Economics and is a Certified Public Accountant. He studied SEO tactics and analytics out of his love for writing.

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Racheal Murimi (Lifestyle writer) Racheal Murimi is a content creator who joined Yen in 2022. She has over four years of experience in creating content. Racheal graduated from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology with a bachelor's degree in BCom, Finance. She has amassed sufficient knowledge working on various topics, including biographies, fashion and lifestyles, guides, and more. In 2023, Racheal finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. You can reach her at wambuimurimi254@gmail.com

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