Black History Month is celebrated annually in February in the United States and Canada. Its origins go back as far as 1926 with the establishment of “Negro History Week” in the United States during the second week of February. This week was chosen because both President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and former slave-turned-human rights activist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) were born during this week.
The first celebration of Black History Month occurred in 1970 at Kent State University and in 1976, under the presidency of Republican Gerald Ford, the Unites States government officially recognized February as Black History Month. In Canada, in 1995, Black Liberal MP Jean Augustine, who was the first Black woman to become a member of a federal cabinet, brought a motion forward to the House of Commons for the month’s recognition, and in 2008, Black Conservative Senator Donald Oliver, who was the first Black man appointed to the Senate, moved for the Senate to do the same; both motions were unanimously approved.
In honour of Black History Month, the Muslim Link’s Chelby Marie Daigle asked local Muslims -- both those who are Black and those who are not -- what Black History Month means to them.