February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, and every year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) provides a theme.
This year’s theme is Black Resistance.
In the Black History Month Theme Executive Summary, which can be read here, the group writes in part, “By resisting, Black people have achieved triumphs, successes, and progress as seen in the end of chattel slavery, dismantling of Jim and Jane Crow segregation in the South, increased political representation at all levels of government, desegregation of educational institutions, the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in DC and increased and diverse representation of Black experiences in media.
Black resistance strategies have served as a model for every other social movement in the country, thus, the legacy and importance of these actions cannot be understated.”
Why provide a theme?
According to ASALH’s website: “For those interested in the study of identity and ideology, an exploration of ASALH’s Black History themes is itself instructive. Over the years, the themes reflect changes in how people of African descent in the United States have viewed themselves, the influence of social movements on racial ideologies, and the aspirations of the black community.“
How did Black History Month come about?
The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to the founder of ASALH, Carter G. Woodson. In 1915, Woodson was visiting Chicago for the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation sponsored by the state of Illinois. The immense popularity of the celebrations and interest in the black exhibitions held in the city gave Woodson the idea of creating “an organization to promote the scientific study of black life and history.” Before he left Chicago, he founded what became ASALH.
Over the next decade, Woodson spent time encouraging different groups and organizations to promote the findings black intellectuals were publishing about black historical achievements. In 1924, the fraternity Omega Psi Phi created Negro History and Literature Week, which they renamed Negro Achievement week. But by 1926, Woodson believed he and ASALH should spearhead the effort to publicize and popularize the celebration of black achievements. And in 1926, they created Negro History Week.
The popularity of Negro History Week spread across the country over the ensuing decades. Led by Woodson, ASALH came up with a theme every year and provided study materials for history clubs, schools, and municipalities who wished to celebrate the festivities. The result of this yearly celebration led to members of the black community pushing for more black history to be taught in schools by the 1940s.
Beginning in the 40s, some communities began expanding celebrations beyond a week and going the entire month of February. This grew more across the United States, into the 1960s when black college students also began calling for a month-long celebration.
Those efforts eventually paid off. Black History Month was officially observed in 1976 via a proclamation from President Gerald Ford. In 1986, February was officially designated as “National Black History Month” via a joint resolution by the House and Senate.
For a more detailed and full in-depth dive into the history and origins of black history month (where the above material was sourced) click here.
Black History Month Resources
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History is hosting a Black History Month Festival over the month of February, which includes virtual events. For the full listing of events you could virtually attend, click here.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in conjunction with Unapologetically ATL, will be publishing a 28-day series titled “Why We Resist,” a Black History Month series on Black Resistance. Stories from the series will be regularly updated here.
On February 7, the Smithsonian will be showing the documentary “Afrofuturism: The Origin Story” which is free to watch with a registration. Click here for more information.
On February 8th, the Library of Congress will be live streaming the workshop “African Americans in Business: Doing Historical Company Research.” Per the LoC’s website, the event will “Explore historical company research through the 2023 Black History Month theme of “Resistance,” featuring historic Black barbers who resisted the status quo by supporting black education and civil rights movements.” For more information, click here.
Black History Events in Phoenix
Culture @ ASU, out of the office of Student Cultural Engagement, will be hosting several Black History Month events on ASU’s campus for anyone to join. For a full schedule of the events, click here.
The Baha’i Faith Community Center of Scottsdale is hosting its first Black History Month Film Festival, titled “I, too, Sing America,” over four weekends in February. A total of 13 films will be shown with the first weekend of films beginning Saturday, Feb. 4. Per the group’s website, “The film festival offers an environment to learn about the African American experience through the art of cinema.” Panel discussions will be led by educators and community leaders. To register for free tickets, click here.
On February 11th at 2pm, the African American Advisory Committee of Tempe History Museum will host a Black History Month Family program. The event will begin with an African dance and drum performance from Kawambe Omowale and continue with ballet and hip-hop dance classes for kids. Kids will also make magazine bead craft. For more information and additional Black History events at the Tempe History Museum, click here.
On February 19, the Black Business Owners Coalition Of Glendale hosts a “Vendors Extravaganza” To Celebrate Black History Month. From 1 to 5 pm at Rose Lane Park, black-owned businesses will be featured in addition to food trucks, a kids’ zone, giveaways, and more. For more information, click here.
Events found at PHXSoul.com