Happy Black History Month! Here's what to know about how it started, the 2024 theme, more (2024)

Krys'tal GriffinDelaware News Journal

Highlighting the achievements and societal contributions of diverse peoples is important year-round, and occasions like Asian Pacific American HeritageMonth in May and Native American Heritage Month in November serve to uplift the voices in these groups.

In February, the national spotlight is put on African Americans with the celebration of Black History Month.

From innovators to artists to White House staff, there’s plenty to celebrate when it comes to Black culture in the United States. If you need a refresher on why Black History Month was created and what it means, here’s what you need to know.

When is Black History month?

Black History Month is celebrated annually in February.

This year is a leap year, so Black History Month gets an extra day of celebration from Feb. 1 to Feb. 29.

What is Black History Month?

Black History Month celebrates the history and achievements of Black people in the U.S. from any period of national history.

From the enslaved people first brought to America on slave ships in the early 17th century to modern descendants of those very same ancestors, Black History Month shines a light on Black culture in America and reminds society of the many ways this community has contributed to and enriched the nation, according to National Geographic Kids.

Notable figures often highlighted during Black History Month include Mae Jemison, who became the first female African American astronaut to travel in space in 1992 (and who also delivered the commencement address for the University of Delaware’s graduating class of 2023!); Barack Obama, who was elected as the first Black president of the U.S. in 2008; Thurgood Marshall, who was the first Black justice appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967; and Martin Luther King Jr., who advocated for equal rights for Black people during the Civil Rights Movement.

And that’s just to name a few.

When was Black History Month created?Black History Month facts

Black History Month has been around for decades, but the first iteration of how the month is now celebrated began nearly a century ago.

Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, wanted to raise awareness about African Americans’ contributions to society and, along with the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Negro History Week was created in 1925, according to Black History Month.

The first Negro History Week was celebrated during a week in February in 1926 that honored the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The result was an overwhelming amount of support in the form of Black history clubs forming, teachers requesting materials to teach their students about Black history and progressive white Americans endorsing the effort, too.

By Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week became a staple for Black culture, with more Americans joining the celebration and mayors of cities across the nation issuing proclamations for the observation of Negro History Week. The Black Awakening and the Civil Rights Movement further propelled the recognition of Black contributions, and in 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to a monthlong occasion.

President Gerald R. Ford emphasized the importance of highlighting Black Americans past and present during Black History Month, and since then, each American president has issued Black History Month proclamations, with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History continuing to promote the study of Black history all year, according to History.

Black History Month theme 2024

Since 1976, every U.S. president has endorsed a specific theme for Black History Month along with their proclamation.

In 2023, the theme for Black History Month was “Black Resistance,” an exploration of how African Americans have addressed historic and ongoing disadvantage and oppression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This year, the Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Arts,” which explores the key influence African American have had in the fields of music, film, fashion, visual and performing arts, folklore, literature, language, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, according to History.

The Harlem Renaissance, the New Negro Movement, Afrofuturism, the birth of hip-hop and the Black Arts Movement are a few eras reflecting the plentiful contributions from Black culture.

Celebrating Black History Month

In honor of this year’s Black History Month theme, a great way to celebrate this year is to dive into Black art of all kinds.

Like to read? Check out the work of Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni, just to name a few artists who were popular during the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s.

Love to jam? There’s no better way to do so than tracing the birth of hip-hop back to that tiny apartment in the Bronxwith DJ Kool Herc back in 1973, which blossomed to include five foundational elements still alive today: emceeing, break dancing, DJing, graffiti and beat boxing, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Want to learn something new? Dig into Afrofuturism, an effort to define cultural and artistic productions that imagine a society for Black people that exists without oppressive systems and examines the intersection of technology, science and Black history and knowledge, according to the National Museum for African American History & Culture.

Afrofuturism can be found in the music of Janelle Monáe and Jimi Hendrix, the art of Lina Iris and Wangechi Mutu, the literature of Octavia Butler and the film Black Panther, among many others.

Aside from this year’s theme, you also can celebrate Black History Month by visiting local landmarks related to Black history, like the Harriet Tubman Byway that runs through Delaware and the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage in Wilmington, and supporting Black-owned businesses across Delaware, like Cookie's Paper Petals in Milford and Green Box Kitchen in Wilmington.

Do you have a tip or story to share about Black history in Delaware? Contact Krys'tal Griffin atkgriffin@delawareonline.com.

Black History Month events: Looking to engage with history? Here's your guide to Black History Month events in Delaware

A piece of Black history in Delaware: ‘A lovely place to go’: Zoar Church comes alive again in Odessa with restoration plans

Don't miss out: Dave Chappelle buddy Talib Kweli is part of Delaware Black History Month celebration

Happy Black History Month! Here's what to know about how it started, the 2024 theme, more (2024)

FAQs

What is the 2024 theme for Black History Month? ›

The 2024 theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” explores the creativity, resilience and innovation from a culture that has uplifted spirits and soothed souls in countless ways across centuries.

What is the theme of the African American Read in 2024? ›

Watch this space for information about the 2025 AARI events, coming soon. The 2024 theme is BLACK ECOLOGIES: We will read environmental literature by Black writers, exploring a range of engagements with the natural world, from wilderness to environmental justice and climate change.

What is this year's theme for Black History Month and what does it mean? ›

Black History Month Theme for 2024

This year's Black History Month has the theme "African Americans and the Arts." The ASALH shares, "African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences.

What started Black History Month? ›

Carter G. Woodson was a scholar whose dedication to celebrating the historic contributions of Black people led to the establishment of Black History Month, marked every February since 1976.

What is the Black history theme for 2024 PDF? ›

See What Great Love” is the theme for the 2024 Black History Month. It comes from 1 John 3:1 (NIV): “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” A variety of resources have been provided for this observance.

What do you say for Black History Month? ›

Top 10 Best Black History Month Quotes:

"The time is always right to do what is right." "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." "Have a vision. Be demanding."

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month? ›

Black History Month is that time for African Americans to acknowledge key figures from our past and present. It's an opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the achievements that African Americans have accomplished in this country, despite the history of racism and oppression.

Why do we celebrate Black History Month? ›

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.

Did you know facts about Black history? ›

Black History Month Trivia
  • William Tucker, son of indentured servants from Great Britain, was the first recorded African child to be born in the colonies in 1624.
  • Vermont was the first colony to ban slavery in 1777.
  • In the 1770s, a Quaker named Anthony Benezet created the first school for African American children.
Jan 11, 2022

Who picks the theme for Black History Month? ›

The annual theme for Black History month is determined by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The theme for this year is "African Americans and the Arts." What is the origin of Black History Month?

Who invented Black History Month? ›

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week".

Who has the biggest impact on Black history? ›

These leaders have also had a significant impact in shaping the world we live in today.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the most well-known civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
  • Rosa Parks. ...
  • Barack Obama. ...
  • Frederick Douglass. ...
  • oprah Winfrey. ...
  • Harriet Tubman. ...
  • Medgar Evers. ...
  • Jackie Robinson.
Mar 2, 2022

Who started Black History Month and why? ›

National Black History Month has its origins in 1915, when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Who chose February for Black History Month? ›

Woodson chose February for reasons of tradition and reform. It is commonly said that Woodson selected February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectively.

What is the theme for Black History Month 2025? ›

The theme, “African Americans and Labor,” intends to encourage broad reflections on intersections between Black people's work and their workplaces in all their iterations and key moments, themes, and events in Black history and culture across time and space and throughout the U.S., Africa, and the Diaspora.

What is the annual theme for Black History Month? ›

Celebrate Black History Month with Smithsonian events, resources, exhibitions, and podcasts. The 2024 theme is "African Americans and the Arts" spanning the many impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more.

What is the theme for Women's history month 2024? ›

The 2024 Women's History Month theme established by The National Women's History Alliance is titled: "Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion." The theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our ...

How is artistic expression important to the black community in 2024? ›

Art can be a nuanced but powerful medium to convey political or social messages. Artistic expressions are important vehicles for cultural exchange, community expression and even social critique.

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