For more than 40 years, the United States has recognized the month of February officially as Black History Month.
Born out of a need to emphasize the contributions of blacks within American history, Black History Month has played an important role in highlighting blackness and black excellence in America. In addition, the month long celebration has also sparked a continuous dialogue on its relevance beyond the second month in the calendar year.
A debate two years ago on whether the month is necessary has since re-emerged. In 2017, we talked with experts about its importance in the wake of the present political and social climate.
City officials and leaders from more than 70 cities across the country including Washington D.C., Atlanta and Philadelphia, commemorated the start of Black History Month with a coordinated moment of silence. The gesture was to honor Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two Memphis, Tennessee sanitation workers crushed in 1968 in the compactor of their garbage truck. Following their deaths, Memphis area sanitation workers went on strike, leading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis where he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.
Here is a list highlighting some of the many Black History Month celebrations taking place in various cites this year.
With its deep roots within the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta has historically been considered the center of black culture, including the “Black Mecca.” It is no surprise that there would be countless events held to commemorate Black History Month in the city dubbed “Too Busy to Hate.”
The Center for Civil and Human Rights will host a special screening of “Behind the Movement,” a retelling of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott on Feb. 2. The Georgia Institute of Technology will host their fifth annual Black History Month Lecture, themed “Giving Voice to Justice for 50 Years” on Feb. 7. In addition, this year the Black History Month Parade will pay homage to its co-founder, Earl Little who along with Charles Johnson launched the parade in 2012. Both Little and Johnson have died from cancer since founding the parade. The parade, scheduled for Feb. 24, will stretch from the historic Sweet Auburn District Downtown to Centennial Olympic Park.
From the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to the Apollo Theatre, to the Botanical Gardens in Queens, New Yorkers and tourists have their fill of options to choose from to commemorate Black History Month.
Home of the Blues. Birthplace of Rock & Roll. Memphis has a number of nicknames, but is also known for being the location for the assassination of Dr. King. This year, Memphis will also be epicenter for “MLK 50,” the 50th anniversary of King’s death. However, before that, the city will commemorate Black History Month with a series of events, from a musical tribute to Dr. King to a photographic exhibition.
The Motor City has an array of options for anyone looking to celebrate the advancements of African-Americans, from a discussion on women in “Hidden Figures” to learning experiences for the entire family.