Black History Month is celebrated around the world, at different points in the year, by a number of countries. As we look forward to Black History Month celebrations, let’s begin with two countries who have their observances throughout the month of February – the United States and Canada.
February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Many of us fail to ask ourselves, “When did this start?” In the U.S., many people believe it was in 1976 when then United States President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month. In Canada, a similar thought process exists but surrounding two different dates. In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month. The motion to do so was introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian elected to Parliament. In March 2008, the Senate completed Canada’s parliamentary position to February being celebrated as Black History Month by unanimous approval of a motion introduced by Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Canadian Senate. However, the origin of Black History Month is quite earlier than the official celebratory dates of Canada and the United States.
In 1926, a week to honor African American history, which has evolved into Black History Month, was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson, known as the ‘Father of Black History’, was the second African American (after W.E.B Du Bois) to receive a doctorate from Harvard. Dr. Woodson, a noted historian, author, and journalist was devoted to the preservation and celebration of African American history. Today, the evolution of Dr. Woodson’s foresight allows for the recognition of contributions from not only African Americans, but Black people throughout the history of the world.
As Black History Month begins, I challenge you to learn a new historical fact each week during February, concerning contributions by Blacks and African Americans. To get things started, search Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. You might not know it, but he probably makes your life a little easier every day!