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Black History Month

John Carricato

Feb 15, 2023

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is observed in the United States during the month of February.

During Black History Month, various events and activities are held to honor and celebrate the contributions of African Americans, such as lectures, exhibitions and community gatherings. Schools, libraries and community organizations often host events and educational programs to raise awareness and promote understanding of the history and culture of African Americans. Additionally, many people use the month to read and study the works of African American authors, poets and other writers. 

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is observed in the United States during the month of February. The observance began as "Negro History Week," which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976.

The purpose of Black History Month is to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. It is an opportunity to learn about and reflect on the important role that African Americans have played in shaping American history and culture.

The theme of Black History Month changes every year, reflecting on different aspects of the African American experience. This year (2023) the theme is "Black Resistance". Black Resistance takes a look at how African-Americans have fought repression from America's earliest days. From escaping the plantation, to the rise out of poverty and the struggle for equal housing and education to the struggle for voting rights, the resistance lives on even into the 21st century. Beginning with colonial days, an act of resistance struck fear into the hearts of white slave owners in New York City as early as 1712.

More insurrections against slave owners would continue right into the mid-19th century. Rebellions in New Orleans, South Carolina and, more famously, in Virginia with Nat Turner's rebellion, were all quickly put down. Yet each insurrection helped to strengthen the resolve of black slaves to find any escape route from slavery.

By the mid-1800's, Harriet Tubman had proudly earned the nickname "The Moses of Her People" when she helped slaves travel into free states and into Canada and Mexico via the Underground Railroad. Tubman was only one of many who helped establish the secret network of escape routes (with safe houses along the way) which resulted in an estimated 100,000 slaves fleeing to freedom.

President Abraham Lincoln would finally make escape routes unnecessary by signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, as tens of thousands of former slaves joined the Union forces during the U.S. Civil War.

Nat Turner's Insurrection
Nat Turner's Insurrection

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman

In the years following, the infamous "whites only" Jim Crow laws that pervaded African-American life in the post-war period resulted in a form of passive resistance -- as millions moved with the Great Migration north beginning in the early 20th century. In the North, at least, and elsewhere blacks finally found their voice on stage, in sports, in the recording industry, or in the political arena.

Black resistance was epitomized in sport stars like Jesse Owens (who brought even the Nazi regime down a notch with his stunning triumph during the 1936 Olympics).

In pop culture, singer Billie Holiday kept the black struggle in the national spotlight with her best selling hit, Strange Fruit ("Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root.")

By the 1960's resistance in the form of the Black Panthers was in counterpoint to the Civil Rights Movement which espoused more peaceful means to the same end.

Under the strong leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. the battle for equal rights extended to not only blacks but for other minorities and the white working poor.

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