The History of Black History Month

Here’s the history on Black History Month ….                                                                       

1926: 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”.

At the time of Negro History Week’s launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:  “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated …”

This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, Black communities had celebrated both dates together since the late 19th century.

1969-1970:The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.

1976: As part of the United States Bicentennial, Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government.

1987:Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom; it is now celebrated annually in October.

1995: In December 1995 the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada.

Black History Month Events

Other Commemorative Dates and Days

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Lincoln MacCauley Alexander
Photo Credit: Government of Ontario
January 21st: Lincoln Alexander Day in Canada to pay tribute to Canada's first Black Member of Parliament, Cabinet minister, and Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. “All I try to do, is to do a job and to do it well.”
Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, PC CC OOnt CD QC (January 21, 1922 – October 19, 2012) 
• The first black Member of Parliament in the House of Commons; and
• The first black federal Cabinet Minister, serving as federal Minister of Labour; and
• The 24th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1985 to 1991; and
On 21 January 2015, Lincoln Alexander Day was observed for the first time across Canada.  More about Lincoln Alexander
Martin Luther King Jr. , 1964
1964 Sweden, Photographer Unknown, Public Domain

January on the 3rd Monday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2024 is January 15th.If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15,1929 - April 4, 1986). One could write thousands of words about his life, dedication, commitment, leadership, but perhaps, that at age 35, he was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, is testament that we are all grateful for his life's work and dedication in the fight for civil rights.  Nobel Peace Prize 1964
Though his birthdate is January 15, 1929, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year.  It is a federal holiday in the U.S.; it is not an official holiday in Canada, though some local governments do commemorate it.

March 1 is Zero Discrimination DayMarch 1st: ZERO Discrimination Day to highlight the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender, identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continues to persist around the world.

International Women's Day Poster

March 8th: International Women's Day  It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  The day also marks a call to action to accelerate gender parity.

international day for elimination of racial discrimination poster

March 21st: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the day in 1960 when the police in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws". United Nations General Assembly Principle of Equality "... any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected ..." UN Observance
United Nations Remember Slavery bannerMarch 25th: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history. Shown on the left, unveiled in 2015; The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, to permanently honour the victims.

business woman seatedOctober is Women's History Month in Canada. October corresponds with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18. It was on October 18th, 1929 that Canadian women were first declared to be legally considered as 'persons', giving women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women's increased participation in public and political life. In Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States it is celebrated during March, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8. A Victoria woman started it all. Lyn Gough of Victoria led the campaign. The goal is to encourage greater appreciation of the notable contributions of women.  BCBHAS Celebrates this month

Image: Pam Sharpe, Unsplash

man places wreath at gravemarker
©BC Black History Awareness Society
November 11th is Remembrance Day. On Wednesday, November 11, 2020 the restored grave marker of Captain Paris Carter [1820-1890], a member of the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, was unveiled at the Ross Bay Cemetery. The restoration and unveiling ceremony was sponsored by the Last Post Fund. Ron Nicholson, long-term member and Board Member of our Society, places the wreath. We honour and remember the men and women who served and continue to serve in times of war, conflict, and peace. Our Society pays tribute
senior man standing in umpires uniform, baseball field in the background
Image courtesy of Barbara Hudlin
"Doug Hudlin Day" is in June. Doug Hudlin was a founding member of our Society, first President of the British Columbia Baseball Umpires Association.  He was inducted, posthumously, into the Canadian Baseball Sports Hall of Fame in June 2017. Step Up to the Plate is a charitable organization in Victoria, BC honouring the life and legacy of "gentleman umpire Doug Hudlin". Funds are raised through charity baseball games to support the youth in our city play baseball/softball through registration fees or supplying equipment.
hands reaching out across blue sky, right hand with Black Lives Matter wristbandAugust 1st: Emancipation Day in Canada In March 2021 MPs in Canada's House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1 as Emancipation Day across Canada.  Emancipation Day in Canada: Past, Present and Future 

Image: The Creative Exchange, Unsplash