10 Feb Black History Month 2023
Black History Month started as a week-long celebration In 1926 when historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week” with the intent of raising awareness of African Americans’ contributions to history. This week was selected because of its proximity to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom significantly affected the lives of Black people in America. A writer and civil rights activist, Frederick Douglass, born on February 14, 1817, escaped slavery at age 21 and played a key role in the abolition of slavery. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, and while serving as US President freed all slaves within the Confederacy with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Fifty years later, in 1976, the Negro History Week was expanded to a month-long observance and has been celebrated since as Black History Month.
When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.
The Theme for 2023
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History titled 2023's theme, Black Resistance. African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, since arriving in America.
Black people have had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. As societal and political forces escalate to limit access to and exercise of the ballot, eliminate the teaching of Black history, and work to push us back into the 1890s, one can only rely on our capacity to resist.
The enactment of HR 40, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Breathe Act, and the closure of the racial wealth gap is not the end. Everyone must take time to study the history of Black Americans and establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.
Celebrating Black History at Work
Black History Month at work is a time to learn and celebrate unsung African and African American history, but also to focus on lifting up Black colleagues and leadership. The purpose of learning history is to learn from the past and make progress for the future. Below are six ways to meaningfully celebrate in your workplace. Visit your local library or historical society to read about the triumphs of black leaders in your community's past.
Spotlight individuals’ stories: Organizations don’t need to look far to find great voices to highlight. People are your greatest asset, and BHM is the perfect time to celebrate Black team members and their work. Organizations can share posts or videos internally on their own websites or newsletters. They can also share externally on social media (but always ask people what they’re comfortable sharing and where).
Seek out Black History in your Area: Black history is everywhere, but we don't always recognize it. This Black History Month, pick up where your history class undoubtedly left off by learning about historical black influencers in your community.
Take a team field trip to visit a local museum that showcases the contributions of the black community to your area.
Start a Book Club: Reading nonfiction or fiction books by Black authors can be a meaningful way to recognize Black History Month. Bring in the author or a facilitator to guide and make the most of your discussion. There are so many excellent books by Black authors. For starters, The Stacks makes lists of their favorite books and they always recommend a great variety of Black authors.
Support Future Leaders in Your Community: Have your colleagues and team members volunteer to answer questions from students who want to work in your field when they grow up. CareerVillage.org's mission is to democratize career readiness by giving professionals a platform to give career information and advice to underrepresented youth.
Buy from Black Owned Businesses: Supporting passionate and tenacious black entrepreneurs is one way to give directly to the black community, during Black History Month and beyond. Spending your money at a black-owned business is an impactful form of economic empowerment. Visit buyblack.org or follow #buyblack hashtag on social media platforms to find a local black own business near you.
Donate: Pool your resources together or arrange a fundraiser to support racial justice. Sometimes, the gift of money is the most impactful thing you can give to a charity, especially when it comes to education or legal funds. We recommend checking out The Sentencing Project, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the NAACP Defense and Educational Fund. It’s also worth it to look into Historically-Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs). Consider establishing a scholarship fund or even mentorship opportunities!
We hope these ideas help you to celebrate Black History Month meaningfully in your organization. We know that this is easier said than done, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone here at DEI@ouroffice.io, as we are here to support you in any way we can.