Honoring Black History Month - Black Health and Wellness

A modern United States of America would not exist without the catalyst of Black lives throughout its history. That history and influence wasn’t fully acknowledged by a national observance until the 1970s, but the effect of Black individuals has been intrinsic to our country since the beginning.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a writer and educator, organized “Negro History Week” in 1926, dictating that the event should occur during the first week of February to situate it between the birthdays of abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. That week-long celebration became a month-long observance, and every year since 1976, presidents have proclaimed February as Black History Month. In 1986, Congress passed “National Black (Afro-American) History Month” into law, aiming to ensure that all Americans “gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the many contributions of Black Americans to our country and the world.” We as a nation are presented with this chance each year to focus on the importance of Black individuals and their experiences; how history has been shaped by them; and how we can improve the lives of all for the future.

The theme for Black History Month 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness.” This stretches past traditional medicine and health initiatives and encompasses the many ways that Black communities have adapted to systemic inequalities. Black communities have banded together to build hospitals and medical schools. Clinics have been established by small, local organizations like the African Union Society, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Black Panther Party. These local initiatives constructed arenas for Black people to confront and challenge the disparities they found with in mainstream institutions.

The theme takes into consideration other avenues of good health like birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, and herbalists, too, and is an especially important topic of discussion underneath the pall of a global pandemic. In the United States, COVID-19 has had a disproportionately harsh effect on America’s Black population, something that researchers attribute to an array of factors including access to sufficient healthcare, poverty, residential segregation, and other socio-economic factors.

Make time this month to learn and appreciate how often the success of our nation hinged on the decisions, the hard work, the sacrifice, and the bravery of Black men and women throughout history.

Black History Month

ASALH – The Founders of Black History Month – Association for the Study of African American Life and History (est. 1915)

BUILD - Home (buildwa.org)