Black History Month (BHM) beginning February 1st is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month and has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The month is celebrated for the achievements by African Americans and is a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.
- Thurgood Marshall – The jurist was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court. We recognize Thurgood Marshall every year on National Maryland Day.
- George Washington Carver – As a man of science, Carver developed over 300 products from peanuts. Celebrate George Washington Carver and his contributions to the peanut industry on National Peanut Day.
- Shirley Chisholm – In 1968, New York’s 12th congressional district elected Chisholm as the first Black woman in Congress. She served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Rosa Parks – The Civil Rights advocate helped initiate the Civil Rights Movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Celebrate Rosa Park on Rosa Parks Day and learn more about her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
- Louis Armstrong – As a talented musician and performer, Armstrong became a pioneer in jazz. Satchmo Summerfest honors his contributions to music for a week each year in August.
- Colin Powell – The 4-star General became Secretary of State. Colin Powell dedicated the Buffalo Soldier Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, establishing the first Buffalo Soldiers Day.
- Barack Obama – Americans elected Obama as the first Black President of the United States in 2009. He served two terms.
What can you do to prepare for Black History Month?
Learn more about African-American history by reading a few books, from the Native Son by Richard Wright to The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – two good examples. Explore online to discover the origins of Black History Month, its theme and a few photo galleries. Participate in upcoming discussions that take place throughout February. If you have young people in your life who aren’t familiar with the observance, sit down with them and explore together, National Geographic Kids, Black History Month, which gives a straightforward understanding of how BHM started.
No mater how you celebrate BHM, it’s a time to honor and respect all African-Americans for their contributions to the United States.