“We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.”
- Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman
“The month of February marks Black History Month, when our country celebrates the generations of Black Americans whose courage, advocacy and patriotism have enriched our communities and strengthened our democracy. In honoring Black trailblazers and change-makers of the past, we also gain inspiration for the work that still remains to fulfill our sacred responsibility to form a more perfect union.
Sadly, Black History Month comes as the scourges of systemic racism, injustice and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has inflicted a devastating, disproportionate toll on the health and economic stability of communities of color, continues to undermine Americans’ rights and our most fundamental values. In the face of these grave challenges, countless young Black leaders, activists and dedicated citizens have marched, mobilized and are making a difference to advance justice and build a brighter future for all. In this vital mission, we are blessed by the leadership and vision of a record number of Black Members of Congress as well as the historic inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman vice president in American History.”
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, February 1, 2021
BLACK HISTORY MONTH WAS A HALF CENTURY IN THE MAKING
What started out as a weeklong celebration in 1926, as a result of work done by Dr. Carter G. Woodson to encourage the study of Afro-American history, was officially recognized as Black History Month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. February was selected by Dr. Woodson as it is the birth month of President Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818), a prominent African American of his day who was a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and laureled elder statesman.
The first slaves arrived in colonial America in 1619. It was more than 250 years later when Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first Black American to vote under the provisions of the 15th Amendment, which was ratified in February 1870 and gave African American men the right to vote. Dr. Woodson, in keeping with his vision, founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915. ASALH, among other responsibilities, has established the theme for Black History Month celebrations each year since 1926. This year’s theme, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity“, celebrates ratification anniversaries of the 15th and 19th amendments.
BLACK HISTORY IS AMERICAN HISTORY
This year ASALH invites you to attend their 2021 Virtual Black History Month Festival. They are hosting several virtual events throughout the month of February starting today! Check out their amazing program.
You are also invite to attend The Impact of Black Pioneers in Washington State event on February 25, 2021 hosted by the Washington State Historical Society. Event information and registration.
WAYS YOU CAN CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY
Join the SmartHealth Black History Month Challenge: BUILD partnered with SmartHealth to create activities for Black History Month! Celebrate African American History by learning about the countless ways the Black community has shaped our country AND Listen to African American Voices to learn about and reflect on the experiences of Black people in your community, while earning SmartHealth points at the same time! Login or Sign up to your SmartHealth account.
Attend BUILD's Black History Month Celebration:
Our Black History Month Celebration will be on Thursday, February 18, 2021, from 9am – 12pm. We are planning a dynamic agenda of speakers and storytellers who will educate and inspire us as we celebrate! For more information email BUILD@ofm.wa.gov. Check out our keynote speaker Angelique Davis.
JOIN THE #DISCOVEROURGLORY CHALLENGE
Most people today are familiar with the historic work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. However, there are many other Black Americans and organizations who have made significant and lasting contributions to our country, as well as Black historical moments and events that have shaped our nation.
BUILD encourages you to research 1 topic a day at #DiscoverOurGlory (by Rachel Cargle) and share what you learn with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc.
Our blog includes but is not limited to events, insights, and highlights to augment basic education.