Town Square

What is the origin of Black History Month?

Experts talk about how and why Black History Month came to be and the importance of acknowledging achievement of African Americans at every opportunity possible.

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
U.S. speed skater Erin Jackson poses with her Beijing 2022 Olympics gold medal during a visit to Empire State Building on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in New York. Jackson became the first Black woman to win Olympic gold in speed skating.

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Town Square with Ernie Manouse airs at 3 p.m. CT. Tune in on 88.7FM, listen online or subscribe to the podcast. Join the discussion at 888-486-9677, questions@townsquaretalk.org or @townsquaretalk.

In February every year, for Black History Month, our country focuses on African Americans who have helped shape the nation and honors their contributions and sacrifices. It's also a time to celebrate the Black community's rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are part of our country’s history.

And while we generally tend to talk about history as something that has happened in the past, it continues to happen in the present.

An example of this is the achievement of speed skater Erin Jackson, who became the first Black woman to win Olympic gold in speed skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Jackson is also the first American to win the race since 1994. And what makes her win even more special is that she made history during Black History Month.

This specific period for acknowledgement of African American culture started out as only a week-long celebration, but somehow it turned into a month-long event and is now celebrated in multiple countries across the globe.

But why is it only in February?

Who started it?

Which U.S. President first recognized it?

Today, our experts help us explore the history of Black History Month, share historical facts to enlighten us, and explain the some of these historical moments of note in detail. We also take listener questions and comments, as we tip our hats to those who worked to bring us this annual celebration of Black history.

Guests:

Dr. Linda Reed

  • Associate Professor of history, University of Houston
  • Interim Chair of the African American Studies department, University of Houston

Frank Jackson

  • Former Mayor for the City of Prairie View
  • Member of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network
  • Member of the World Conference of Mayors Historical Black Towns and Settlements Alliance

Town Square with Ernie Manouse airs at 3 p.m. CT. Tune in on 88.7FM, listen online or subscribe to the podcast. Join the discussion at 888-486-9677, questions@townsquaretalk.org or @townsquaretalk.

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This article is part of the Town Square with Ernie Manouse podcast

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