February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans’ achievements and recognition of their roles in U.S. history. This month is a great time to educate yourself and your family on this important topic and learn ways you can celebrate.
About Black History Month
A half-century after the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, a prominent minister at the time, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. Today, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group first celebrated “Negro History Week” in February 1926 to coincide with President Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Though celebrated in many cities and college campuses throughout February, it wasn’t until 1976 that President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month.
Black History Month, as President Ford said then, is a chance to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Black History Month 2024: “African Americans and the Arts”
The 2024 theme will celebrate the huge contributions that African Americans have made and their influence on art. Historically, Western cultures minimized the contributions of those of African descent even though those contributions range from antiquities of Egypt to the more than 300-year tradition of making sweetgrass baskets. From visual and performing arts, literature, language, architecture and culinary to many other forms of cultural expression the ASALH strives to put, “into the national spotlight the richness of the past and present with an eye towards what the rest of the 21st Century will bring.”
How can I celebrate Black History Month?
Though education and celebration of Black American achievements and history happen all year, February gives you a unique chance to celebrate with events around the state. Check your city’s website for events in your area.
In Indianapolis, the Madam Walker Legacy Center will host events throughout the month showcasing art including concerts and films. Pay your respects and stand where a historic event took place at the Kennedy-King Landmark for Peace Monument. Senator Robert Kennedy was visiting Indianapolis when Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That night, Kennedy delivered a powerful speech with a message of love, togetherness and justice honoring King. You can also take your family on the Through2Eyes Walking Tour that will take you to various locations in Indianapolis where Black history was made and helped shape the Hoosier state.
The South Bend Tribune will offer a series of virtual community conversations on Tuesdays throughout February. The series, “Tribune Talks @ Lunch: Local Black History,” will feature a variety of speakers and topics. In South Bend, you can also take the self-guided African American Landmark Tour and see notable sites important to local Black history, or visit the Huggart Settlement, the first rural African American settlement in Northern Indiana.
National Black History Month provides opportunities to learn, grow and celebrate in February, but we can continue this year-round. Locally, support Black-owned restaurants and businesses, donate to Black charities and organizations, and visit museums or exhibits showcasing Black history, art and culture. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture has an abundance of resources you can access anytime from anywhere including a “Searchable Museum” and a digital library.
Black History Month 2024 highlights art, but the impact African Americans have had on all aspects of America’s culture is tremendous. We encourage everyone to explore various resources year-long to deepen their understanding and appreciation for those contributions and the history, tradition and culture of the Black community.