Though February is Black History Month, the AAC would like to recognize that we must continue to educate ourselves of Black history year round!
The History of Black History Month & Its Significance
Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. In 1915 historian Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in response to the lack of information on the accomplishments of Black people available to the public. In 1926, the group declared the second week of February as “Negro History Week” to recognize the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. Few people studied Black history and it wasn’t included in textbooks prior to the creation of Negro History Week.
Why February? This week was chosen because it includes the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist (someone who wanted to end the practice of enslaving people), and former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War, which was primarily fought over the enslavement of Black people in the country. Many schools and leaders began recognizing the week after its creation. The week-long event officially became Black History Month in 1976 when U.S. president Gerald Ford extended the recognition to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States every February since.
Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.
Watch our conversation with Freedom Inc. as part of our Civil Rights Convo Series:
This panel was based around the values of Freedom, Inc. and how the Black & Southeast Asian communities found commonality through building a unified community to address the disparities of poverty, racial profiling, gender justice, and violence. We must continue to unpack what it means to be BIPOC living in the US while continuing to fight for change. Through sharing our experiences, we can learn how to show up for one another. We can show up for Black Americans and Asian Americans.
Black Led Nonprofit Organizations to Support in MA
We would like to acknowledge Black led organizations v. organizations the serve Black communities face different realities when it comes to structure and services. Here is a list! Please let us know in the comments of this post if we missed any.
- African Community Center of Lowell: Equips African immigrants and refugees in the Greater Lowell area with resources to be actively engaged community members, through educational, social and cultural initiatives
- BAMS Fest: Works to break down racial and social barriers to arts, music, and culture across Greater Boston, through the presentation of an annual festival, signature events, and strategic partnerships.
- Black Boston: An organization of activists whose website offers directories, networking, job openings, resources of Black-owned businesses, a calendar of events, and more.
- The Black Literacy and Arts Collaborative (BLAC) Project: Aims to level the playing field by promoting literacy, business acumen, financial literacy, and mental health through the visual and performing arts
- Black Economic Justice Institute: Advocate and develops programs that address justice and economic opportunity for black and other people of color of Boston.
- Black Lives Matter Boston: A chapter of the greater international movement Black Lives Matter, this organization works to organize and build Black power in Boston by supporting new Black leaders, creating a network where Black people feel empowered, and igniting communities to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people.
- City Life Vida Urbana: Commits to fighting for racial, social and economic justice and gender equality by building working class power. They promote individual empowerment, develop community leaders and build collective power to effect systemic change and transform society
- Elevated Thought: Commits to developing spaces for BIPOC youth and communities to engage and understand art’s liberating power.
- Equal Justice Initiative: Provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons
- Families for Justice as Healing: Works to end the incarceration of women and girls in Massachusetts.
- Hispanic Black Gay Coalition: Works to empower LGBTQ individuals to improve their livelihood through Activism, education, outreach and counseling.
- Loveland Foundation: Brings opportunity and healing to Black women and girls through fellowships, residency programs, mental health support, listening tours, and more.
- Mass Jobs with Justice: Works to build unity and support for the struggles of working people.
- My Brothers Keeper 617: Provides mentoring to young men and boys in the Boston community aged 8 and up. The goal is to show the youth that they can make choices that will increase academic growth and professional opportunities.
- Merrimack Valley Black and Brown Voices: Provides Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts with a safe space to connect, share resources, and create systemic change to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in surrounding communities.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Commits to securing the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. There are many branches throughout MA.
- New England Blacks in Philanthropy: Works to shift the philanthropy paradigm from focusing on Black deficits to the potential and financial leverage of Black philanthropy by creating a strong alliance between funders and the community.
- North Shore Juneteenth Association: Provides the community with programming and education that centers on positive images of Black American culture. They hold an annual Juneteenth celebration.
- Trans Resistance MA: Commits to creating spaces, events and experiences that uplift the TQBIPOC community. They organize the annual Trans Resistance rally at Franklin Park.
- Trans Emergency Fund: The Transgender Emergency Fund assists with homelessness prevention, shelter assistance, nutrition assistance, prescription co-pay assistance, transportation and escort to medical appointments, etc. All services are contingent on the availability of funds.
- WOYM Inc.: Strives to normalize conversations around thoughts, feelings, emotions and mental health in general in communities of color.
- YWBoston: Dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice freedom and dignity for all.
Events & Resources
- Events hosted by National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Events hosted by Boston Public Library
- Events hosted by African American History Month
- Virtual Exhibits & Online Experiences by Google Arts & Culture
- Master list of Black and Brown Owned Businesses in MA
- 60+ Black-owned restaurants to support in the Greater Boston area
Read, Watch & Listen