Black History Month may look a little different this semester, but that does not minimize its importance. In previous years, the African American Cultural Center (AACC) at the University of Connecticut is known for creating workshops, lectures, pageants, dinners and exhibits to celebrate African American heritage and history, according to their website. This semester, AACC’s opening ceremony will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m.
The opening ceremony will welcome Black History Month with guest speaker, Patrisse Cullors. Cullors is known for co-founding the Black Lives Matter movement, a social movement protesting injustices towards Black people. She also founded Dignity and Power, an organization that fights for incarcerated people.
Black History Month’s beginnings start with Carter G. Woodson. He was a Havard-trained historian who dedicated a week in February to raise awareness of African American contributions to civilization, according to a site titled African American History Month. After Woodson’s death, the Black Awakening of the 1960s further shed light on how important it is to celebrate Black culture, civil rights and equality for all. In 1976, President Gerald Ford announced the importance to recognize Black Americans and their accomplishments, which began Black History Month. The site also mentions that Congress officially passed a law in 1986 that recognized February as Black History Month.
Black History Month is celebrated in February because the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln are in February, according to Oprah magazine in an article titled, “The Reason Black History Month Is in February.” Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist in the 19th century that served as inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement, while Abraham Lincoln is known for emancipating enslaved peoples during the Civil War.
Attending celebrations and seminars by organizations like the Association for the Study of African American Life and History or African American History Month, supporting Black businesses, educating yourself on Black culture and history through books, movies, music and shows are different ways to celebrate the month. Movies like “Selma” speak about the Civil Rights movement. “Hidden Figures” tells us a story about Black women and their struggle to be recognized as equal within their careers. The President of the United States also has a tradition of speaking for Black History Month.
“It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America,” Obama said in a 2016 speech for Black History Month. “It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”
Stayed tuned on AACC’s website to find out more ways to get involved.
Some more ways to get involved with Black History Month.