Celebrating Black History Month

Reviewed by Cathy Zegarowicz Leeson, SLP

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Black History Month is an annual celebration of the historical achievements of African Americans throughout history. Since the 1970s, February has been designated as the month of Black History. The origin of this month started in the early 20th century with Carter G Woodson—the renowned ‘Father of Black History’. Black History Month is not only to celebrate important historical figures, but also a time to educate people about the integral role African Americans have played within American history. 

The Origin of Black History Month

Black History Month initially started as Negro History Week, and was founded by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The event was first celebrated in February 1926, as this month encompassed both Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The celebration was a success and was embraced by many. By the 1950s, the week had been widely adopted by African Americans all over the nation, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s propelled the importance of black history to the forefront. The week-long celebration was then extended to a month-long celebration in 1976 when President Gerald Ford incorporated it into the U. S. Bicentennial.

How to Honor Black History Month

Nowadays, there are various ways we can celebrate Black History Month. Here are just a few you can participate to support the cause this year: 

Educate Yourself About Black History & Culture:

Boosting your own knowledge of Black history is great way to expand your awareness of the past and present conditions of African Americans in the United States. This will lead to a richer understanding of why African American culture is what it is today. You can start by:

Visiting a human rights museum: Consider visiting the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, or any other museum in your local area.

Reading books: You can read both fiction and nonfiction to learn more about Black history. The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris is a historical fiction book that takes place in America after the Civil War, while Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is an illustrated book for children that features 18 trailblazing Black women in American history. Browse some of the latest Black history books for 2022 on Goodreads.

Reading articles: There are countless articles that have been written on Black history events, figures, culture, and more. Britannica’s African Americans article provides a detailed introduction to the history of this population in the U.S., while the History Channel’s Black History Milestones provides a timeline of key events in Black history from the 1600s to the present day. Find more articles by searching online or checking out the U.S. National Archives.

Watching documentaries: There are many documentaries available on streaming services that can help you learn more about African American culture, stories, and people—such as 13th, a documentary that explores mass incarceration in America by explaining how this country’s legal history has created today’s inequality, and I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary that uses James Baldwin’s words, interviews, and unpublished work to explore the history of race in America. Find more documentaries here.

Buy from Black-Owned Businesses:

Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to be turned down for loans. By consistently supporting African American businesses, you can help lessen the inequality gap. Find local black-owned businesses by simply doing an internet search  in your local area. A few we recommend are: 

  • London Grant Co: Providing mindfully-sourced products that also use eco-friendly packaging, this company’s product list includes skincare, body butters, oils, scrubs, and so much more. 
  • Café Con Libros: This is a bookstore and coffee shop that prides itself on creating a vibrant community space. 
  • The Verticale: This business produces high-standard quality clothing, gifts, beauty products, and more.
  • Ethel’s Club: This is an immersive wellness platform designed to make wellness more accessible for everyone.     

Donate to a Social Justice Organization:

The fight for full equality still rages on, and posting on social media is just the start. There are plenty of movements working to make the world a fairer place, so what better way to support them than with your financial backing? There are plenty to choose from, including The Bail Project, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Campaign Zero just to name a few. 

Sign a Relevant Petition

Unfortunately, injustices continue to happen every single day, which means there are always relevant petitions to sign—whether it is to reopen a case, limit police powers, or address an issue in your state. Search online for what issues are happening near you and find out how you can help. 

Supporting Black History Month at Therapist.com

Although Black History Month is a time for celebration, it is also a time for reflection. If you need someone to talk to this month because you’ve been directly impacted by racism in the past, or you’re experiencing it currently, our mental health professionals can help. 

Here at therapist.com, we have a wide range of expert therapists on hand to help with a number of mental health conditions, which can often be caused by issues such as racism and race-based traumatic stress. For more information, browse our directory today

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