Paul Robeson, From the book of poems titled Blacks, 1994
we all heard it,
cool and clear,
cutting across the hot grit of the day.
The major Voice.
The adult Voice
forgoing Rolling River,
forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
and other symptoms of an old despond.
Warning, in music-words
devout and large,
that we are each other’s
we are each other’s
we are each other’s
magnitude and bond.
Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet
Black History Month 2024 celebrates the national theme of African Americans and the Arts. Black art and cultural expression from the past and present have left an indelible mark on American life and culture. Musicians, poets, playwrights, dancers, and everything in between have reminded us of black plight, power, suffering, and joy for millennia. We’re thankful for a black history to acknowledge and celebrate. And we believe that representation matters as we intentionally and continuously work toward equity for the children, youth, and families we serve.
This month, TACFS will elevate some selected African American art from the past and present to celebrate the awesome contributions of black people to American life and history. We’ll also take this time to explore the connection between self-expression, positive outcomes, and healing from trauma.
The Story of Black History Month
Carter G. Woodson was a historian and only the second African American person (after WEB Dubois) to get his Ph.D. from Harvard University. While presenting at a wildly successful 1915 national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of slavery, Woodson formed an organization to promote the study of black life and history. That organization is now called the Association for African American Life and History (ASALH). Black History Month started first as Negro History and Literature Week, then was rebranded and popularized as Negro History Week in February 1926. Woodson chose February because both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays are within a week of each other and people all around the nation were already celebrating and observing the contributions of those two figures. Woodson’s goal was to encourage the public to celebrate and study black history above and beyond them. The ASALH was largely responsible for the promotion and growth of Negro History Week within schools and communities all over the US and by the 1960s (the height of the Civil Rights Movement), Negro History Week became Black History Month.