Each February, Americans honor the contributions of Black Americans throughout history. The tradition started, in 1926, as a week-long focus on Black contributions to America. It became an official U.S. Heritage Month in 1986, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
While it is important to recognize the importance of Black Americans’ roles in the building of America year-round, February – Black History Month – is a great time to deepen our knowledge and understanding of Black History and the Black experience and to initiate conversations with friends and loved ones. To help focus our efforts, ASALH designates a Black History Month theme each year. The theme for 2023 is Black Resistance.
This theme invites all of us to recognize the oppression and trauma that has been and continues to be experienced by Black Americans and to celebrate the strength and conviction of Black Americans to continue to resist. Resistance comes in many forms, from striking, boycotting, and speaking out to organizing movements. Resistance also means establishing institutions to advance and empower Black communities and to share the Black experience through public platforms achieved through the arts, TV and movies, sports, politics, and much more.
From the early slave revolts through the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements to the #Sayhername and Black Lives Matter Movements, strong, resilient Black Americans have continued to persist, break barriers, and resist the trauma and racism that is entrenched in all facets of their lives. These movements have achieved great successes in many areas, and efforts continue each day, however violence and discrimination against Black Americans continues. And so does the fight for equality, justice, and peace.
Throughout the month, we invite you to reflect on the history of Black resistance and to share stories of strength, resilience, and resistance with the kids in your life. It is so important for our kids of all racial backgrounds to learn about the Black Americans, past and present, who have shaped America. By following in the footsteps of these role models, we can strive to create a place of equity and justice for all.
Here are some resources to help in your journey of discovery: