The theme for Black History Month this year is “Black Resistance.” Black people have a long history of resisting oppression, hate, and violence – both in the U.S. and around the world. African Americans have fought tirelessly (and continue to do so) to be seen as equals among the rest of the human race and to have the same opportunities, rights, and protection from harm as the rest of the American population. Centuries of risking their safety and well-being to fight for what they deserve has ultimately been successful even though there is still much to be done. You can read more about 2023’s theme on the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s website here.

“Let your motto be resistance! Resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.” – Rev. Henry Highland Garnett

Why is Black History Month so important?

Black History Month, celebrated every February in the United States, is an opportunity to give special attention and recognition to African Americans of the past and present. It’s a way to honor the challenges, contributions, and achievements of Black people in the United States. Other countries have also begun observing a Black History month of their own such as Canada, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and more. It’s important for us to look back at the past to help inform us about what to do in the present and future. Black History Month isn’t just about remembering the pain and suffering of Black people in the U.S. due to racism and slavery, but to highlight the amazing achievements that have come from the Black community over the years.

Who are some important African American history makers?

  • Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987) was an educator and an activist who designed programs to teach African Americans how to read and write so that they could pass literacy tests and be eligible to vote. Her work in creating “Citizenship Schools” where Black people could go to learn was integral in the overall success of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s estimated that 700,000 African Americans registered to vote due to these schools.
  • Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961) was an inventor who was widely known for his inventions of mobile refrigeration technology, allowing food to be transported in trucks and on ships to keep food fresh for longer. His inventions also resulted in the ability to keep things like blood and medication cold during WWII, something that was impossible up until that point.
  • Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) was a mathematician and the first Black female engineer to work at NASA. She played a vital role in solving complex math equations needed to send the first American to space and the 2016 movie Hidden Figures portrays her challenges and persistence as a Black woman in the workplace in the 1950s-60s.

How can I celebrate Black History Month?

  • Support Black-owned businesses, check out the #blackownedbusiness hashtag on Instagram to explore thousands of Black-owned online and brick-and-mortar stores
  • Support Black artists, music, and authors
  • Educate yourself on Black history and current happenings
  • Donate to charities that help fight against racism towards Black people
  • Attend Black History Month events to learn, find community, and show your support/alliance