graphic by Gabriel Toscano

Black History Month is a time for honoring and acknowledging the lives, contributions and history of Black Americans. Each February, Black History Month is celebrated with cultural, historical and educational presentations, as well as programs designed to raise awareness for the significant challenges and difficulties still being faced by Black Americans today. In honor of this beautiful cultural month of celebration, here are some unique facts about Black History Month!

  1. Black History Month was originally a week

The celebration of Black History Month began as a week-long event created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a prominent Black scholar, historian and educator. Fifty years later, in 1976, the first Black History Month was picked to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. 

  1. Each Black History Month has a theme

Since 1976, a specific theme is endorsed for the celebration of each Black History Month. 2022’s theme is, “Black Health and Wellness.” According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or ASALH, “This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora.”

  1. Canada also celebrates Black History Month in February

In 1995, a Black Canadian member of Parliament named Dr. Jean Augustine founded Black History Month in Canada. Their theme for 2022’s Black History Month is “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day.” Other countries like Ireland and the United Kingdom hold Black History Month in October.

  1. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman to become a doctor of medicine in the United States 

Born in Delaware in 1831, Rebecca Lee Crumpler challenged the prejudice facing women of color in the medical field and became the first Black woman to receive an M.D. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864 and served as a physician, helping care for African American women and children in Boston. She also wrote her novel “A Book of Medical Discourses,” which was published in 1883.

  1. John Baxter Taylor was the first Black American to win an Olympic gold medal

In the 1908 Olympics, Taylor competed in the 400-meter relay final and the 1600-meter medley relay. In the latter, Taylor ran the last stint of the race and went down in history as the one to bring home the gold for his team.
Black History Month is a wonderful time to celebrate culture and honor the lives of Black Americans who have contributed greatly to the history of the United States. For more information and unique facts, visit ASALH’s website at www.asalh.org.

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