Black History Month Celebrating the Gifts and Remembering the Journeys of
People of African Descent February
In the USA and Canada, the month of February is officially designated as Black History Month, the observance of which began in 1926. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American author and scholar, began what was then Negro History Week for two purposes -- to educate non-black Americans about black American culture and history, and to engender pride among African Americans. Why February? Woodson chose February because the month marks an exceptional number of events of importance to the community of people of African descent in the United States. For example, February marks the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery, and Frederick Douglass, the noted African American abolitionist. Douglass, a former slave himself, met with Lincoln on numerous occasions to urge action on behalf of his people.
An additional reason why Woodson chose February for Negro History Week was that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation's oldest civil rights organization, was founded in February 1909. Also, Hiram Revels, the first black American U.S. senator, was born in February. He was elected in 1870, five years after the civil war ended. In 1972, Negro History Week became Black History Week and in 1976, the nation's bicentennial, Black History Week became Black History Month. In some cities, Black History Month is now known as African American History Month.
Black History Month has been celebrated in Canada by groups such as the Canadian Negro Women's Association, who brought the celebration to Toronto in the 1950s. It is now officially recognized throughout Canada following a unanimous adopted motion in the House of Commons by Jean Augustine, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Black History Month has been officially proclaimed by the City of Toronto since 1979 largely due to the efforts of the Ontario Black History Society. (http://www.toronto.ca/blackhistory/) ADDITIONAL NOTE: The churches of the UFMCC, while observing Black History Month, are mindful that the history, gifts and unique strengths of any group must not be relegated solely to one month. Our commitment to Jesus Christ and our call to diversity challenges us to celebrate the gifts of all of God's people throughout the liturgical year. We wish to uphold Black History Month as a time of celebration, remembrance, and honor, while remembering that this month is but one part of a continual commitment to cultural diversity.
Lastly, MCC is dedicated to honoring inclusivity of language and, as such, has adopted the vocabulary People of African Descent rather than Black in most of our literature. Here, we uphold the title Black History Month for its recognizability and tradition.
**Special thanks to Wanda Floyd, Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis, and Rev. Elder Darlene Garner for their valuable contributions to this Introduction.