The History of Black History Month
Black History Teaching Resources
Black History Videos
Watch videos about the extraordinary lives of famous figures in Black History. Explore their biographies and the stories of many more who changed the world with their groundbreaking achievements
Smithsonian Folkways – Sing For Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs – Various Artists and Related Lesson Plans: “South Africa, Free At Last:The Freedom Songs of South Africa and the Civil Rights Movement in America”
Between 1840 and 1860, before the American Civil War, enslaved Africans followed the North Star on the Underground Railroad to find freedom in Canada.
Abolition of Enslavement in Canada
It was through the dynamic created by the resistance of Africans, both enslaved and free, and the position of others opposed to slavery based on ideas of equality, that the abolition of enslavement was finally achieved throughout the British controlled world, including Canada, on August 1, 1834.
The Oro Settlement was one of the earliest Black settlements in Ontario. It was not the largest in Upper Canada, but it was the only one that resulted from government planning and encouragement.
In the spring of 1968, six Black Caribbean students at Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University, Montreal) accused a biology lecturer of racism.
Black History Month provides an opportunity to share and learn about the experiences, contributions and achievements of peoples of African ancestry. It was initiated in Canada by the Ontario Black History Society, which was founded in 1978.
At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality:
The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington – 150 Years of Freedom
The year 2013 marks two important anniversaries in the history of African Americans and the United States. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set the United States on the path of ending slavery. A wartime measure issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the proclamation freed relatively few slaves, but it fueled the fire of the enslaved to strike for their freedom. In many respects, Lincoln’s declaration simply acknowledged the epidemic of black self-emancipation – spread by black freedom crusaders like Harriet Tubman – that already had commenced beyond his control. Those in bondage increasingly streamed into the camps of the Union Army, reclaiming and asserting self-determination. The result, abolitionist Fredrick Douglass predicted, was that the war for the Union became a war against slavery. The actions of both Lincoln and the slaves made clear that the Civil War was in deed, as well as in theory, a struggle between the forces of slavery and emancipation. The full-scale dismantlement of the “peculiar institution” of human bondage had begun.
In 1963, a century later, America once again stood at the crossroads. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation in public schools, but the nation had not yet committed itself to equality of citizenship. Segregation and innumerable other forms of discrimination made second-class citizenship the extra-constitutional status of non-whites. Another American president caught in the gale of racial change, John F. Kennedy, temporized over the legal and moral issue of his time. Like Lincoln before him, national concerns, and the growing momentum of black mass mobilization efforts, overrode his personal ambivalence toward demands for black civil rights. On August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans, blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, marched to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, in the continuing pursuit of equality of citizenship and self-determination. It was on this occasion that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his celebrated I Have a Dream speech. Just as the Emancipation Proclamation had recognized the coming end of slavery, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom announced that the days of legal segregation in the United States were numbered.
This copy has been republished electronically with permission from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History at www.asalh.org.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
On August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. began his speech by declaring, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity … In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.” <p”>In 2013 the country will commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation – the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Standing as milestone moments in the grand sweep of American history, these achievements were the culmination of decades of struggles by individuals – both famous and unknown – who believed in the American promise that this nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.” Separated by 100 years, they are linked together in a larger story of freedom and the American experience. <p”>To commemorate these two pivotal achievements, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in collaboration with the National Museum of American History (NMAH) will present an exhibition, featuring historic photographs, paintings, new film footage and objects, that explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed. Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 December 14, 2012 – September 15, 2013
At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington (2013 Official Theme)Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Black History Month – Canada
NBCC’s Black History Month The Ontario Black History Society Ontario Black History Month Veterans Affairs Canada profiles the Second Construction Battalion, and the military legacy of Canada’s Black community.
From a Daughter of the Dust
We are the children of those who chose to survive…
Nana Pouissant in Daughters of the Dust
If you teach a child of African Descent about slavery,
Make sure you also teach them about the tenacity of their ancestors
Ripped from the motherland
Transported and transplanted
but defiant Spirit
Remind them that
the genes of the pyramids
the worldview of Ubuntu
the shared bloodlines of Mandela, Sirleaf, King, Da Costa, Parks,and Obama
Flow through their veins too
For they are indeed
The children of those who chose to survive.
written by Vickey Gibbs