Some Historical Facts about BHM:
- The commemoration of Black History Month in North America dates back to 1926, when Harvard-educated African American historian Carter G. Woodson proposed setting aside a time devoted to honour the accomplishments of African Americans and to heighten awareness of Black history in the United States.
- This led to the establishment of Negro History Week in 1926. Celebrations of Black history began in Canada shortly thereafter.
- During the early 1970s, the week became known as Black History Week. It was expanded into Black History Month in 1976.
- In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada following a motion introduced by the first African Canadian woman elected to Parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine. The House of Commons carried the motion unanimously.
- In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month. It received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008.
As an immigrant teenager, I didn’t really grasp the whole meaning of BHM. In High School I felt that BHM was when we were allowed to be black or celebrate our blackness. it was upto the black kids to prepare something to present to the whole school.
School administration was not really part of supporting the student. I got the feeling that they were saying to us – it’s your month so do what you want!
We did some performances and put together shows for the school. But there were not many meaningful educational programs developed by the school and the teachers for BHM.
But now, I notice that BHM has evolved into something more significant and that’s a step in the right direction.
It’s important that we create intentions and personalize what black history means to us to help to move the needle forward.
I was invited to speak at the City of Ottawa as part of the BHM celebrations this week I I truly felt honoured and humbled to take part in the event and the celebrations. One of the things that I talked about is to be intentional of what we want to accomplish by the end of this month?
How would you like to experience BHM every year?
What can you do to me more intentional and in your BHM efforts?
What can we do to use BHM to create awareness and amplify our voices?
To advance our cause and advocate for ourselves?
We can use our voices and capacity to show-up for ourselves and as a result we also show us for our community and those that come after us.
Sometimes, this means taking the initiative for BHM at your workplace, schools and in your community at large.
We can all do our part in our perspective spaces to inspire change, create awareness and hold others accountable to create safe and equitable environment for black people.
So this month, I ask yourself, how can I take advantage of BHM to move the needle in any way that you can
If you’re in the entrepreneurship space, talk about what it means to be a black entrepreneurs, the benefits and challenges and invite others to join you in this conversation. You can do the same in your prospective fields.
BHM is also a chance for others to celebrate with us and experience the diverse and vibrant black cultures in CANADA. Do what you can, make it inspirational, engaging and joyful
Happy Black History Month!