Black History Month is a time for recognizing the crucial roles African Americans play in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including the United Kingdom and Canada, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
The story of Black History Month begins in 1915. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the ASNLH. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History is dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans.
Black History Month 2023 Theme
For four decades, every President has endorsed a specific theme for this momentous occasion. The Black History Month 2023 theme is “Black Resistance”. It explores how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression in all forms. Particularly, the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings since the nation’s earliest days.
Black people have had to consistently push the U.S. to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all.
Uncommonly Known Black History Events and Leaders
While we are proud of our Black leaders and activists, there are ‘firsts’ that are less talked about.
Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. At age 15 in 1955, Claudette was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a crowded bus.
2. Phillis Wheatley
Phillis was only 12 when she became the first female African American author published. She was born in West Africa and enslaved by the Wheatley family of Boston in America.
3. Ban on Interracial Marriages
The ban on interracial marriage in the U.S. was overturned because of one couple 1967. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided Loving v. Virginia, declaring state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.
4. Hattie McDaniel
Hattie was the first African American to win an Oscar. She was an actress, singer, songwriter, and comedian. However, she was not allowed to attend Gone With the Wind’s national premiere.
5. Josephine Baker
During WWII, Josephine Baker was a spy for the French. She was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent, and civil rights activist.
Who’s Making Black History Month in 2023?
In honor of Black History Month 2023, the below is a short list of living, influential Black people that are shaping history today.
1. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist, is the lead scientist on the team that developed the 2020 Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. She is also an Assistant Professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. In 1988, she was the recipient of the NAACP Key of Life Award. This award was created to recognize extraordinary achievements in civil rights, human rights, and community work.
2. Cheick Camara and Ermias Tadesse
Co-founders of BlackGen Capital. As students at Cornell University, they participated in many of the elite financial clubs and organizations. But they noticed they were the only Black members in the ranks of these clubs. This led the two juniors to launch the school’s first minority-owned investment fund, BlackGen Capital, in 2019. It was created to help Black and Brown students attain access to financial education opportunities and resources.
3. Felicia Pride
Felicia Pride is a film and television writer, producer, and director. Her production company centers Black women 40+ in front of or behind the scenes. She is a writer for Grey’s Anatomy TV show. Her writing spread waves of awareness about dealing with medical formulas and their racial disparities. Pride is instrumental in spurring crucial industry changes that are being made in the health care community.
4. Sandra Lindsay
Sandra Lindsay is a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. She is the first person in America that volunteered to get the Covid-19 vaccine outside of a trial. During a time when these vaccines were very unstable, she put her life on the line to save fellow Americans. Lindsay oversees five critical care nursing units at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
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