CityU Canada commemorates the contributions that the Black community has made to society.
Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month, a month to honor the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities.
Black History Month is meant to recognize the contributions, struggles, adversity, strength and history of the Black experience
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” developed in the United States by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. The week was selected as it included both the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Celebrations and learning opportunities spread to Canada and Latin America in the 1930s. In 1976, the United States federally extended the celebration to include the full month of February as Black History Month. Several Canadian provinces followed suit and Canada federally marked February as Black History Month in 1996.
Every year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) chooses a theme for Black History Month. The theme acts as a lens through which we can collectively focus our study, thoughts, readings, and discussions about issues of importance – both historical and present – within the Black community and beyond.
The 2023 theme of Black History Month is Black Resistance, a theme that acknowledges the strength in resisting oppression both historically and presently. Black Resistance is, and has always been, a powerful vehicle for social, political, and environmental change. How can we focus on this theme in February 2023? ASALH explains: “This is a call to everyone, inside and outside the academy, to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.”
Celebrating Black History Month
Canada’s “First Lady of Jazz”, Eleanor Collins, has been blazing trails for over 70 years. Born in Edmonton, she and her husband chose to settle their family in Burnaby, BC where they almost immediately faced a white community petition to force them to leave their home. Nevertheless, Collins did not back down. She instead chose to fight prejudice by sharing her artistic talents and leadership skills with her new community. Through her art, she achieved national prominence and hosted her own CBC show becoming the first Black television host in North America in 1955. This year, Canada Post is honouring this 102-year-old living legend with her own commemorative stamp.