Happy Black History Month: Let’s Talk About It!

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month in the United States, and with that comes a lot of excitement, festivities, and cultural celebration. At the same time, there might also be some confusion. If you grew up after Black History Month was instated, you may have never thought to ask why it occurs in February? When did it even start? And what are we supposed to do during the month? Well, today I aim to shed some light on the holiday, so let’s learn about Black History Month! To start us off we have to know…

When did Black History Month first begin? 

Well, that’s kind of a tricky question. Black History Month, at least in the way we think of it today, became an official holiday in 1976 when President Gerald Ford stated that he wanted to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” But this wasn’t an idea President Ford originated, people had been celebrating Black History in various forms since 1926. Initially, it was deemed Black History Week, when the founders of the now-called Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), minister Jesse E. Moorland and historian Carter G. Woodson, decided to sponsor the national holiday. Much like Juneteenth, these, at the time, local celebrations became larger and larger as the years went by. Mayors from around the country created events, with the celebration flourishing until it was expanded into Black History Month. The festivities were so popular and culturally relevant, that it finally couldn’t be ignored and became a certified national holiday years later. But then we have to ask…

Why is Black History Month Celebrated in February?  

For that we have to go all the way back to 1926, and those initial celebrations. When Moorland and Woodson were conceptualizing the idea of Black History Week, they decided to choose the second week in February to, according to History, “coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.” Abraham Lincoln, of course, being the sixteenth president of The United States, who famously signed the Emancipation Proclamation which declared that “all persons held as slaves are, and henceforth shall be freed.” As we know now, though this was significant at the time, the news didn’t reach all slaves until June 19, 1865 (hence why we also celebrate Juneteenth). Frederick Douglass is significant all on his own. Born in February 1818, Douglass began his life as a slave. According to NPS, “At an early age, Frederick realized there was a connection between literacy and freedom. Not allowed to attend school, he taught himself to read and write in the streets of Baltimore.” He spent his time as a slave educating others, creating plans for freedom, and fighting back in any way he could. It was this determination that ultimately led to his freedom, as in 1838, Douglass boarded a train and landed in New York City. His work didn’t stop there, he became a published author, speaking on his own experience and rallying Black men during the Civil War, even speaking with President Lincoln about emancipation and its necessity. It’s important to remember Douglass and his story, as we celebrate this month. So then we have to think about…

How should we best celebrate Black History Month? 

Similar to any holiday of this nature, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and show your support! As previously mentioned, cities have festivities for Black History Month, and I’d encourage you to check out what’s going on in your community. Here in Austin, the Carver Museum, Cultural, and Genealogical Center is having a whole slew of events including a Black History Month Block Party, an African American Arts exhibit, and even a Black History Month Kids Day! You can also support Black businesses, either local or nationwide, as a way to give back to a community that deserves recognition. Good Housekeeping has an amazing list of 100 Black-Owned Businesses to choose from, and their always updating! So why not buy yourself something nice this Black History Month? But Black History Month is more than just about yourself, it’s also a time to acknowledge the people who made the diversity we now get to experience possible. A time to show thanks and educate yourself by indulging in content relating to famed activists, historians, and icons. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, and so many more. One of the best ways to celebrate Black History Month is by donating to causes and lending your financial support. Since this country’s inception, Black citizens have been at a severe systemic disadvantage. Organizations like the NAACP or Black Lives Matter are trying to change this, but their always looking for a helping hand. 


I hope that answered all your questions, and I hope you have an amazing, and fulfilling, Black History Month! 


  • Camila Dejesus

    Magazine & Media Editor, Camila Dejesus has been writing since she was a child and enjoys all forms from creative writing down to narrative analysis. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's in Television and Radio Production and works full-time at Latinitas Magazine. In her free time, she loves writing stories, water coloring, or playing songs on her Baritone Ukulele. Now, her greatest passion is finding new topics that will engage and inspire Latinx youth.

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