February 2024

February 1 marks the start of Black History Month! Celebrated annually in February, Black History Month is federally recognized time for uplifting the achievements and contributions Black Americans have made to the United States, as well as the long and historic fight for racial justice and civil rights in our country, and the pioneers – both past and present – who have paved the path toward progress.  

This year’s theme is African Americans and the Arts. It is the 96th theme selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) – and continues the naming tradition established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, historian and ASALH founder, also known as the man behind Black History Month. 

Beginning as a week-long celebration that took place the second week of February, Woodson started what was then known as “Negro History Week” in 1926 as a way of engaging students in the study of Black history and encouraging fellow historians to pursue the subject as an important academic focus. By the late 1960s, with momentum gained alongside the Civil Rights Movement, Negro History Week evolved into the month-long commemoration that we know today as Black History Month.   

While widely commemorated in educational settings, Black History Month did not earn its federal designation until 1976. At the country’s bicentennial celebration, President Gerald Ford called upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” making it the first federal acknowledgement. It was later signed into law by Congress in 1986, authorizing the presidential office to issue a declaration to proclaim February as Black History Month.   

The ASALH chooses a theme each year to call attention to an important aspect of Black history with this year’s theme his year’s focus in recognition of the role that Black music, folklore, film, literature, visual arts, dance and more has played in expressing the Black experience and encapsulating Black history.  

First 5 LA is proud to celebrate Black History Month and invites all to join along by checking out below, our curated list of local and virtual events that celebrate the month.