Originally started out as an annual “Negro History Week” celebration in 1926, created by historian Carter G. Woodson. However, in the early 1940s, blacks in West Virginia had already began to reconized February as Negro History Month. It wasn’t until 1976 when the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) officically changed the week long recognition to a month long. Since then, every sitting president has proclaimed February as annual Black History Month.
President Gerald Ford once encouraged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Now more than ever our nation must dedicate itself to social justice and unity in effort to move towards a civilization where everyone is celebrated equally.
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The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity
Every year since there’s a Black History Month theme encouraging the public to focus on important topics and bring. Below we’re breaking down the Black History Month Theme of 2021 theme and past historical themes.
African American leaders in history–not exclusive to black history– continue to be underrepresented. Woodson envisioned a world where the celebration and study of African Americans was not looked at as race, rather as producers of valuable work. During the suffrage movement, often white activist allies would claim representation over african american activists and rarely received appropriate representation and recognitions. With the countless contributions the black community has made on medicine, politics, innovation, agriculture, and advancement of the human race as a whole– we have a long way to go.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word Identity as this: the distinguishing character or personality of an individual and individuality and the relation established by psychological identification.
When you think of the world identity, many things come to mind. What you look like, who you are and where you’re from. For the black family, diasporic identity has displaced them from a single location. Families of migrant populations are now spread across states, nations and continents. In the 1920’s growing racial pride and awareness became the decade of the “new negro”, a name given to the Post-War I generation. At that time, over a million African Americans migrated from the rural south into the bigger urban and industrialized cities through the United States.
For hundreds of years, African Americans faced inequitable treatment simply for the color of their skin. Migration patterns in the early twentith century resulted in more diverse, interracial and intra-racial urban populations. Cities like New York and Detroit saw a rise in black industry workers, entrepreneurs, urban churches, religions, music, visual and literary arts. However, the call for Black History Month and diversity wouldn’t be needed if our automatic recollection, inclusion and celebration of the Black Family was the social norm.
Empowering Past Generations
Take a look back at past Black History Month Themes and explore historical issues of African American descent and race in America.
2020 – African Americans and the Vote
2020 marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment, the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. The theme has rich history and encouraged the public to acknowledge the past and ongoing struggle of men and black women’s right to vote. Additionally, this theme recognized historical moments suchs as black elected officials appointed in local and national level positions, campaigns for equal rights, pivotal legislation, and the role of blacks in traditional and alternative political parties.
2019 – Black Migrations
2019’s theme emphasized the movement and migration of African descent to new destinations and new social realities focusing heavily on the twentieth century and forward. Additionally, the black migration theme equally lends itself to the exploration of decades spatial and social perspectives, new African Americans migration from African and Caribbean, North African Americans’ return to the South; racial suburbanization, inner-city hyperghettoization, health and environment, civil rights, protest activism, politics, and mass incarceration.
2018 – African Americans in Times of War
Throughout history African-Americans have fought for the United States, serving and defending our country while still being denied basic rights. It wasn’t until the twentieth century when African American soldiers registered for the draft to freedoms in Europe, but also to prove that they deserve their rights back at home in the United States. However, military leaders believed black soldiers didn’t have the physical, mental or moral character to fight on the front lines.
It wasn’t until the 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’, served on the front lines for six months and never lost any territory or prisoners to the enemy– with considerably less training. The entire unit was awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor and 171 members of the Harlem Hellfighters were awarded the Legion of Merit. This marked the beginning of African American soldiers being honored and saluted for serving their country.
dfree® Freedom Movement of America
The mission of Black History Month is to encourage the public to promote, research, preserve and spread information about black lives, history and culture. Historically, the black community has been underserved in the world of finance.
In partnership with MoneyLion, dfree® is offering approachable banking solutions and financial wellness to the African American community including debt management, credit building, and investment portfolios. Head over to dfree® today and find out more about how you can reach financial freedom.