Happy Black History Month!

For the month of February, we are celebrating Black History Month! Many have certainly heard about Black History Month but what does it practically mean and how can each and everyone celebrate it?

Black History Month | School of Social Work

What is Black History Month and why do we celebrate it?

Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements of Black individuals and to remember Black history and its contributors to civilization. However, Black History Month was not always called that and neither did it start with an entire month of celebration. It started in 1926 as the Negro History Week when the American scholar and historian Carter Godwin Woodson wanted to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and focus on their central role in U.S. history. Woodson was the first to open the long-neglected field of Black studies to scholars and popularized the field in the schools and colleges of black people, making the field a “serious area of study”. Woodson decided upon celebrating Negro History Week the second week in February, due to both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, who both played a huge role in the emancipation of enslaved Africans and the abolitionist movement, celebrating their birthday during that week. However, the idea grew in the 60s as a result of the social movements protesting racial injustice and inequality and eventually evolved into today’s well-known Black History Month. Later in 1976, US President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month and stated that it is time to acknowledge the too-often neglected accomplishment of African Americans.


90 years after Woodson envisioned a weeklong celebration to educate people on Black history and culture, the former US President Barack Obama stated in a speech on February 12th 2016 that:

“So we are so proud to honor this rich heritage.  But Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history — (applause) — or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington, or from some of our sports heroes.   There are well-meaning attempts to do that all around us, from classrooms to corporate ad campaigns.  But we know that this should be more than just a commemoration of particular events.

It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.  It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future.  It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”


Additionally, each year Black History Month has a theme. The theme for 2022 is Black Wellness and Health, in honour and support of physical and mental health of Black individuals, in addition, to recognising Black medical practicians and decolonizing racial medical practises.

Things to do during Black History Month!

Now that we know the history of Black History Month, we can discuss what everyone should think about and do to uplift, support, and celebrate Black individuals. A lot could be said here but let’s focus on five key aspects.


  1. To celebrate Black Joy as much as Black resistance! Meaning not to only focus on pain, suffering and trauma, but to instead give room for Black joy. Black joy means to claim ownership of the free self through joy, celebrating Blackness and having the right to love Blackness. Below are shared links to read and hear more about Black Joy.


The Pleasures of Resistance: Enslaved Women and Body Politics in the Plantation South, 1830-1861 by Stephanie M. H. Camp

What is ‘black joy’ and why do we need it in our lives?

Why we need to celebrate Black Joy | Valerie June | TEDxNashvilleSalon


  1. Center Black voices and Black stories! It can be a movie, book, series, or other forms of media by Black creators telling stories that centre Blackness. To hear stories told by Black individuals about Black individuals is to decolonize the narrative of Blackness that Whiteness has told. This blog’s monthly book suggestion gives some suggestions, in addition, the Instagram account @womensprize also occasionally lifts Black authors. Otherwise, a simple Google search will give a plethora of great media to consume that centre’s Black voices.
  2. Buy Black! This entails supporting Black-owned businesses, shops, and brands, both local and/or global ones. To economically support Black business, today and always, is part of being an ally to a community that is deeply affected by systemic racism.
  3. Continue supporting racial justice movements and organizations! Whether it is economical support, following and sharing information or educating oneself on the matter are all as valid and important.
  4. Finally, even if we only celebrate Black History Month for the entirety of February, Blackness should be celebrated all year round. Meaning that these are not things that one should consider only during the month of February but something to keep in mind all year round.

10 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month This February | Houstonia Magazine