February is designated as Black History Month in the United States. Black History Month is a time of the year which is dedicated to honor the contributions of African Americans to society both in the US and worldwide. One of the many interesting aspects about Black History Month are the origins of Black History Month. In the remainder of this blog more information about the history of Black History Month will be highlighted.
In order to tell the history of Black History Month we need to travel to the year 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson established “Negro History Week” during the second week of February. This week was established in the month of February because it fell in between the birthdays of two prominent individuals to the Black community in the US at that time. Those two individuals were: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The emphasis for this week was to celebrate pride in the Black community, provide time to reflect on their contributions, and to strive to plan for the future of the community.
This week was accompanied by a wide variety of various events. Participation in these events was encouraged by Black primary and secondary school teachers in segregated schools. The events ranged from parades to essay contests. The original intention of this week was to serve as a spotlight on the events but the contributions identified during this time frame were meant to be highlighted for more than one week. Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH). The goal of the ASALH organization in the following years was to get recognition from the federal government regarding this week of celebration. The main goal was to have the US proclaim the month of February as a month to celebrate African Americans’ contributions to the history of the United States and beyond.
The first official observance of a month devoted to celebrating the contributions of African Americans came in February 1976. However, it was not until 1986 when the U.S. Congress, with a joint resolution of the House and Senate, designated the month of February as “National Black History Month.” The resolution requested that then President Ronald Reagan issue a proclamation of this observance. Hence, in 1986, Presidential Proclamation 5443 was established and noted that “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”
After this Presidential Proclamation was established the interest in and observance of Black History Month grew in a variety of ways. Today, you will find in many schools across the US a variety of activities to recognize Black History Month. In addition to schools, various corporations and organizations recognize Black History Month with events often associated with Employment Resources and Affinity Groups. Every year since Black History Month was recognized by the US government there has been a theme that accompanied each commemoration of Black History Month. The theme for Black History Month in 2022 is: Black Health and Wellness.
In keeping with the spirit of Black History Month the African-American Affinity Group of the Society of Women Engineers will host a series of activities that highlight the contributions of women engineers/STEM professionals of African descent in the US and worldwide.
The following links provide information about the history of Black History Month:.
The SWE African-American Affinity Group (AG) is a safe space for Black members and allies to connect with each other and provide support for one another. To learn more about the African American Affinity Group, please check out our Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.