Black History Month

It wasn’t until the late 1960s that February was declared “Black History Month.” Originally the idea of Historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who was known as the “father of Black History,” “Black History Month” is both a celebration and reminder that Black history is American history.

Did You Know?
  • Carter Woodson first declared “Negro History Week” in February 1926
  • Woodson wanted to encourage the teaching of Black history in schools
  • Woodson selected a week in February to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born during the month
  • John Mercer Langston became one of America’s first Black lawyers after passing the Ohio State bar in 1854
  • “Negro History Week” became “Black History Month” in the late 1960s
  • “Black History Month” has a new theme each year. This year’s theme is, “Black Health and Wellness.”

Celebrating Black History Month

There are several ways to honor and celebrate Black History Month. Here are just a few ideas:

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination

We all know the legacies of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and activist Rosa Parks, but there are many other Black leaders whose names you haven’t heard nor seen in history books. For example, Shirley Chisholm. In the late 1960s, Ms. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress, and in 1972, she became the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Or Gordan Parks, the first African American on the staff at LIFE Magazine. Mr. Parks once told the magazine, “I saw the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”

Take some time to visit a Black History Museum. Make it a family affair. Almost every state has one. Can’t visit in person?

A photo of Hampton University Museum, formerly the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Library

Most museums, including the Hampton University Museum, the country’s first and oldest Black history museum, offer virtual tours and access to online exhibits.

According to a 2019, U.S. Census Bureau Report, there are an estimated 134,567 Black-or-African American-owned businesses in this country. Becoming a supporter of a local Black business helps to protect Black entrepreneurs as they turn their dreams into a reality. So, eat, shop, and spend time at a local Black-owned business.

From blues and spirituals to the age of jazz, hip hop, and R&B, Black music has connected us to one another for centuries. Enjoy reading books, listening to podcasts, and audiobooks? If you listen, there are stories in every lyric sung, journeys in the sentences of every book, and personal truths in every word shared.

Nat King Cole and Oscar Moore, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946

Listen to hear. And listen to learn. There are lessons about Black History month everywhere we turn.

Mercy Housing was founded on the belief that housing justice is social justice. We live by the values of respect, justice, and mercy and commit ourselves to advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI).