BLACK History Month is an opportunity for the black community to celebrate its many achievements.
The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is among those singled out as “extraordinary women” leaving their mark in history.
When is Black History Month?
Black History Month 2021 runs in the US from Monday, February 1 until Monday, March 1.
The national theme for Black History Month 2021 is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,”.
This is according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founders of Black History Month.
- In the UK it is being celebrated from Friday October 1 until Sunday October 31, 2021
How is it celebrated?
The annual event is heralded in a variety of ways across the US, in print, on screen and by many institutions.
For example, Ohio University is hosting a slate of virtual events, including a keynote talk from veteran political strategist Donna Brazile on February 16.
There are also lectures and readings, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.
“For our Ohio community, Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate black heritage, encourage reflection, and renew our resilience in the face of current challenges,” said Dr Gigi Secuban, vice-president for diversity and inclusion.
Oprah magazine, meanwhile, has published a feature on “40 famous black and African American women who are leaving their mark on history”.
Hailing these ‘queens’, the article highlights women including Meghan Markle; news anchor Gayle King; Vice-President Kamala Harris; Golden Globe winner Regina King; Michelle Obama; screenwriter Lena Waithe and LGBTQ advocate Laverne Cox – also known for acting in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.
Of the Duchess of Sussex, the mag says: “Though Markle – along with her husband, Prince Harry – made the unprecedented move to step back as a senior member of the royal family in 2019… the former actress has established herself as an advocate for a variety of causes including gender equality and climate change.
“She and her husband have also founded Archwell, an organization that acts as a production and audio company, and a charitable foundation.”
Variety writes that TV is “taking part in celebrating black voices and stories across film, television, politics, sports and more” this month.
There’s an extensive line-up of shows, including – on February 10 – Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage being aired on the History Channel.
It’s a one-hour-long documentary about America’s first black military pilots.
Plus, ASALH’s website has information on upcoming events.
This includes a virtual Black History Month festival on Monday, February 1.
When was the first Black History Month?
Black History Month is considered one of the nation’s oldest organized history celebrations.
It has been recognized by US presidents for decades through proclamations and celebrations.
To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week nearly a century ago.
The event was first celebrated during the second week of February 1926.
This timing was selected because it coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and abolitionist/writer Frederick Douglass (February 14).
That week would continue to be set aside for the event until 1976 when, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, it was expanded to a month.
Since then, American presidents have proclaimed February as National African American (Black) History Month.
In numbers: latest US population stats
In celebration of Black History Month, these figures have been released by the US Census Bureau:
48.2 million – The black population, either alone or in combination with one or more races, in the United States in 2019
87.9% – The percentage of African-Americans aged 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2019
30.7% – The percentage of the employed black population age 16 and older working in management, business, science and arts occupations in 2019
124,004 – The number of black-owned employer businesses in the United States in 2017
2.1million – Black military veterans nationwide in 2019
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