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How did Black History Month come to be?


123rf/Wavebreak Media Ltd.

As January ends and we head into February, it’s time to celebrate 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?

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

The history 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 slave in the 1800s who spoke out for the freedom of slaves, 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 slaves 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.

How can you take part?

Kids colouring together.

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.

There are also museums and historical sites you can visit across Canada.

Read 5 Canadian stations of the Underground Railroad.

Graphics by Manuchi/Pixabay