By Khadeja Haye, MD, MBA, FACOG, TeamHealth National Medical Director, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Black History Month is a celebration of key people and moments in history that impacted not just the Black community, but also the society at large.
Black History Month for me, gives rise to a sense of pride in my community, and I enjoy the ability to share it with my friends and family. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect on those that paved the way before me, lighting the path to my success.
I was not taught Black history in school growing up. But, my family did their best to empower me with knowledge of my ancestral accomplishments. I had to educate myself and search for truths that were not easily accessible in mainstream education. Now as an adult and a parent myself, I try to be more mindful of the images my children are exposed to and the messaging they receive.
I believe it would benefit our society if we all made the commitment during this time to learn something new about the history of Black people in this country.
About Black History Month
Black History Month is observed annually from February 1 to March 1 in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It is also observed in Canada during the same month while Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom celebrate it in October.
In 1926, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History chose the second week in February, which coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14, as Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month.
Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University first proposed Black History Month in February 1969, and the first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State the following year. Six years later, Black History Month was recognized nationally by President Gerald Ford during the United States Bicentennial and celebrated in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers across the country.
Black History Month gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate, reflect and understand the impact of Black heritage and culture. In a 2016 speech, President Barack Obama said, “It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.”
Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity
Since 1976, every United States president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” We’re expanding on this theme to celebrate African-American medical pioneers who have influenced the practice of medicine throughout history.