Today marks the beginning of Black History Month. It is an annual celebration of achievements by the Black community and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. The 2021 Black History Month theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” Education material is provided below for all team members.

Division Spotlights

Black History Month Facts

  1. Black History Month began as Negro History Week in 1917. Author, journalist, and historian Carter G. Woodson lobbied vigorously for the national recognition of black stories and perspectives. Woodson believed deeply that equality was only possible with the acknowledgement and understanding of a race’s history, and dedicated his life to the study of African-American historical research.  Unfortunately, current events show us that we still have a long way to go to achieve his goal.
  2. Dr. Theodore R. Johnson, Senior Fellow at Brennan Center for Justice as NYU School of Law:  “Since its inception, Black History Month has never been just a celebration of black America’s achievements and stories, its part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens
  3. Black History Month is a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history.  It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
  4. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month
  5. President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5443 which proclaimed that “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”
  6. The “First” Black Americans and their contribution to US History:
    • First Lawyer: John Mercer Langston
    • First Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall
    • First Eminent Scientist: George Washington Carver
    • First Woman in House of Representatives: Shirley Chisholm
    • First Self-Made Millionaire: Madam C.J. Walker
    • First Oscar Winner: Hattie McDaniel
    • First Professional Black Baseball Player: Jackie Robinson
    • First Black President: Barack Obama
    • First Black Vice President: Kamala Harris

Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

  • Support a Black-owned business
  • Read a book
    • The Black Experience in America Book by Norman Coombs
    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    • Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington
  • Volunteer at youth organizations in black communities
  • Donate to a HBCU  (historically black college/university)
  • Attend a Black cultural event in your community
  • Learn about an unsung hero of Black history
  • Learn about Black Music (learn the lyrics to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”- referred to as the Black National Anthem)
  • Watch an educational movie
    • Ruby Bridges
    • Hidden Figures
    • 13th
    • I am not your Negro
    • Quincy
    • Montgomery Bus Boycott
    • 42 – Jackie Robinson
    • At the River I Stand Documentary
    • Loving Documentary