This month is dedicated to celebrating the achievements by African Americans. It provides an opportunity to recognize their central role in U.S. history and impact globally. The annual celebration also known as African American History Month, 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.
GOFAD in its exploration promoted by a question from a 10 year old boy in Guyana discovered what many may already have known but is worth sharing:
Today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society—from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more.
The theme of Black History Month 2022 “Black Health and Wellness,” According to my primary source Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), it is intended to focus on: ”the legacy of not only Black scholars and Medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."
What is intriguing from the historiography is that Black people have embarked on self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives to build hospitals, medical and nursing schools. Among, most notable of such institutions are: Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Provident Hospital and Training School, Morehouse School of Medicine, etc.)
In addition, clinics were established by individuals, grassroots organizations and mutual aid societies, such as the African Union Society, National Association of Colored Women and Black Panther Party, to provide spaces for Black people to counter the economic and health disparities and discrimination that are found at mainstream institutions.
At this point in the 21st century, our understanding of Black health and wellness is broader and more nuanced than ever. Social media and podcasts, such as The Read, hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury have normalized talking about mental health and going to therapy as well as initiatives such as Therapy for Black Girls.
In the still overhanging shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black people are increasingly using data and other information-sharing ways to document, decry, and agitate against inequalities intentionally baked into systems and structures in the U.S. for no other reason than to curtail, circumscribe, and destroy Black well-being in all forms and Black lives. Moreover, Black History Month provides Black communities with the opportunity to look to the past to provide the light for the future. This may mean embracing the rituals, traditions and healing traditions of the ancestors. These ways of knowing require a decolonization of thought and practice.
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.