Black History Month
At Centra, we strive to create value for our Members, Team Members, and the Communities we serve. Celebrating Black History Month supports this vision and our goal to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Black History Month is an annual celebration during the month of February that focuses on highlighting Black Americans and their important role in U.S. history.
Prior to this month-long celebration, American historian Carter G. Woodsan co-founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Their goal was to bring the accomplishments of Black people to the public, so they declared the second week of February National Black History Week in 1926.
Why that particular week? Two important figures in Black history celebrated their birthdays this week: Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass on February 14.
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week-long celebration to an entire month. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”1
Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2023 theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” since their earliest arrival to this nation.2
Achievements of Black people
Black Americans play a crucial role in the shaping of our history. Here are just some of the achievements they’ve made:
- Rosalind Brewer became the first Black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 firm in 2021.
- Famous writer, performer, and social activist Maya Angelou became the first Black woman to be featured on U.S. currency this year.
- Matthew Henson and Admiral Robert Peary became the first men to reach the North Pole in 1909.3
- Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the first Black person and only the second woman to be named U.S. Surgeon General in 1993.4
- Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first Black woman in the United States to receive an MD degree in 1864.5
- James McCune Smith, MD, was the first Black American to receive a medical degree in 1837, later becoming America’s first Black physician.6
Want to learn more?
Interested in learning more about Black History Month? You can find helpful information and facts here:
1. History.com Editors. (2022, January 19). Black History Month. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
2. ASALH – the founders of Black History Month – Association for the study … (2023). https://asalh.org/black-history-themes/
3. Black History Month: Honoring the Achievements of African Americans | La Paloma Academy: Lakeside | Tucson Charter School. (2019, February 20). La Paloma Academy: Lakeside. https://lpatucson.org/lakeside/black-history-month-honoring-the-achievements-of-african-americans/
4. Changing the Face of Medicine | M. JoycelynElders. (n.d.). Cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov. https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_98.html
5, 6. Celebrating 10 African-American medical pioneers. (2019, February 25). AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/celebrating-10-african-american-medical-pioneers