An annual celebration not just in the United States but in countries around the globe, Black History Month was first commemorated in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson initiated the first “Negro History Week” with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) which he had founded. February was chosen because it contained the birthdays of two men who were already celebrated by the African American community – Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12).
In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the first Negro History Week, the month was officially established by presidential proclamation under Gerald Ford as “Black History Month” -- an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans recognizing their central role in United States history. It is believed to be one of the nation’s oldest organized celebrations of history.
The Kimmel Cultural Campus celebrates Black History Month all season long by highlighting Black artists, creators, and community members that enhance the Philadelphia region with their talents. See our social media channels and below for each participant’s answer to the question — “What does Black History Month mean to you?”
“Blackness, in all its richness, dynamism, and diversity is a thing of immense beauty. I’m so honored to be of this lineage. As I curate my set lists, I’m always sure to interlace new compositions with tried and true standards. This is my way of paying homage and reverence to the history and to my musical forebears.”
Vocalist, Songwriter, and Performer
“Because we have the power of telling our stories, we have the power to make change. So the work that I do – performing, being an advocate for education, and teaching the next generation of musicians, especially those that are minorities -- so that we have more people in this field, for me, for us. But the bigger thing is not just having more in this field, but every field, to uplift Black voices everywhere.”
Viola, appearing with Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
“There is no time period within American history where you don’t see the contributions of African Americans. This act alone is proof to the vastness of our achievements. Additionally, when I need to find strength to carry through times of adversity I look to our ancestors for inspiration. When John H. Johnson, founder of EBONY Magazine “was experiencing great adversity, he recalled when Mary McLeod Bethune once told him, The darker the night, the brighter the stars.” Even in the midst of our worst struggles, the testament to “How We Got Over” was our unwavering hope toward a better tomorrow.”
Dr. Ashley Jordan
President & CEO, African American Museum in Philadelphia
"When I think of Black history I'm reminded that I stand on the shoulders of giants that I've never met. Their sacrifices enable my strides in a way that I hope our work at REC Philly will enable the wings of future generations of creatives to come. I am because we are."
Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, REC Philly
"We are museums. Black women and girls in particular have been the keepers of culture, preservationists in our communities since enslavement. TCGM distinguishes herself by exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring, and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experiences and herstory of black women and girls. The Colored Girls Museum is a Public Ritual for the Protection, Praise, and Grace of ordinary girls and women of The African Diaspora.'
Executive Director & Founder, The Colored Girls Museum
“It’s an honor to play Persephone - a chocolate-skinned, natural-haired Goddess and Queen - on stage eight times a week in Hadestown. To be a fully realized, complex, and beloved character was the stuff of dreams when I was a child. I can only hope that my presence on stage allows people to know that there is room for them too in the theater”
"Black History Month means that we celebrate and honor those of strength, perseverance, and passion in black excellence. As I work to achieve my dreams, I aim to honor my ancestors of excellence and to inspire others to live their dreams with pride."
Principal Dancer, Philadelphia Ballet
“Black History Month is both a reminder and homage to the tremendous shoulders we so firmly stand on who created a way out of no way.
As a jazz singer and composer, it is also a special time to celebrate all the unsung great black women who made remarkable contributions in creating the authentic art form known as jazz—American classical music.”
“To me, Black History Month is a time of destiny and force. Destined to making myself exist and be seen. A time to shed light on how our community CONTINUES TO ADVANCE culture, industry, and society, even in the midst of all the injustices we STILL face.”
Michael Jackson, Jr.
Dancer, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
“For me, Black History is a celebration and means being proud of who you are and where you come from. It’s knowing that my grandmother was the first person in my maternal family to get a college degree. It’s a celebration of our HBCUs, and knowing I had a choice to go to ANY university because of the fight to be inclusive long before I was born. Black History is a celebration of my parents, and their interracial marriage — and our multiracial family! It’s thanking all the notable and hidden figures, who’ve paved the way, while knowing I too bear a responsibility to make this world a better place for my sidekick!”
On-Air Personality at 6ABC Action News
"Black history is a river overflowing with the contributions of everyday people. I think of my father, who poured into this river with generosity and kindness; he inspires me to serve my community through Jazz Philadelphia."
President, Jazz Philadelphia
“Black History Month means a time of learning, our history, our culture. We stand on the soldiers of great people and the legacy of their works lives on through us, our families, friends, and neighbors. Who can we help? Who can we be a blessing to?”
Radio Personality atWDAS
See al the quotes as well as an NBC promotion of our Black History Month celerbations all season long on your YouTube.