Why does the US celebrate Black History Month? The answer to that question is a part of Chicago history!

Black and white photo of Woodson including a quote that says, "“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”Carter G. Woodson sparked the Black history movement and was a graduate of the University of Chicago. In February 1926, Woodson established Negro History Week to encourage “people of all ethnic and social backgrounds to discuss the Black experience.” In fact, he spent his career as a historian, author, and journalist understanding, highlighting, and promoting Black history as a critical part of American history.

Negro History Week grew to a full month when it was recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, only 45 years ago. President Ford challenged the American people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Moving History Forward

This celebration of Black stories and achievement is necessary, so we can understand and cope with the United States history of slavery and systemic racism. No matter the country, time, people or group, a trend has always existed in which history is taught through one perspective – typically the perspective of the dominant demographic – which in this case its White people. To create an equitable future, we must face the ills of our past and honor those creating change every day.

Black Activists Enabled Our Mission

We cannot imagine what kind of country America would be – or what kind of city Chicago would be – if not for its Black inventors, scientists, explorers, and activists. Community Action was born out of the civil rights movement. CEDA would not exist without Black activists and movements. To honor our roots and the Chicago of today, this month we have:

As Black History Month 2021 comes to a close, let’s be mindful of the Black changemakers in our communities and always remember – Black history is American history.

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