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History 101

How did Black History Month come to be?

Published on January 31, 2022 | Last Updated February 09, 2023
A heart symbol that reads Black History Month, surrounded by colourful flowers

February is Black History Month! Find out more about this month-long celebration that takes place every year.

What is it?

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and remember all the ways that Black Canadians have contributed to Canada’s history and culture.

Throughout February, this celebration provides a chance to learn about African cultures.

When did it start?

Historian Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, chose a week in February to recognize African Americans. (Wikimedia)

The story of Black History Month dates back to 1926 in the United States. At that time, an African-American historian named Carter G. Woodson founded a week that focused on celebrating the accomplishments of African Americans.

He decided on a week in February because two important men were born in that month.

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass (left) was an antislavery activist and Abraham Lincoln (right) served as the 16th president of the United States. (Wikimedia)

The first was Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person in the 1800s who spoke out for the freedom of enslaved people, as well as equal rights for women.

And the second was Abraham Lincoln. As the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln fought for the freedom of all enslaved people throughout the country.

While Woodson’s idea began as a one-week celebration, it eventually became a month-long event called Black Heritage Month in the United States in 1976.

And in 1995, Canada’s government officially recognized February as Black History Month.

Did you know that each year, there's a different theme for Black History Month? In 2022, the official theme is "February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day."

How can you take part?

A group of kids drawing and colouring together in class


Many events take place across Canada during Black History Month, including concerts, performances and activities for kids and adults. Ask your school or local library about the events held in your community.

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