Barbara McKinney, ADAW Diversity Outreach Program Coordinator
How far have we really come?
Black History Month is recognized in the United States from Tuesday, February 1 to Tuesday, March 1. The theme “Black Health and Wellness” focuses on an American Healthcare system that has often underserves the African American community. Black History Month is an opportunity for the black community to celebrate its many accomplishments. The first official Black History month dates back to 1976 when President Gerald Ford asked the public to take the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.
Black History Month is considered one of the Nation’s oldest organized history celebrations and has been recognized by US Presidents for decades through proclamations and celebrations. In 1926, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate and celebrate the contributions made by people of African descent. The event was first celebrated in 1926 during the second week of February as part of the nation’s bicentennial and was expanded into a month in 1976.
Historically, when we speak of the Black Experience in the United States, it is often blemished within the context of slavery, lynching, segregation, genocide, and systemic injustices. Between 1517 and 1840 it is estimated that twenty million blacks were captured in Africa and transported to America and brutally enslaved. The experiences of these people and their descendants serve as a backdrop to what is termed “The Black Experience,” these injustices having left an indelible stain on our history. In spite of all this, during Black History Month we celebrate and uplift African American accomplishments, the resiliency of a proud people who have made and continue to make remarkable contributions to this nation.