Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.
Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history".
In the black community, Black History Month was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of Black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressives. Since its inception, Black History Month has expanded beyond its initial acceptance in educational establishments. In 2018, Instagram created its first-ever Black History Month program with the help of its then Head of Global Music & Youth Culture Communications. By 2020, Black History Month had become a focus beyond schools. The Wall Street Journal describes it as "a time when the culture and contributions of African Americans take center stage" in a variety of cultural institutions including theaters, libraries and museums. It has also garnered attention from the U.S. business community.
Sheetal Parikh, MS, RDN, LDN
Vegetarian Nutrition Diversity Liaison