The 2023 theme of “Black Resistance” is presented to explore how Black individuals and communities have fought back against historic and ongoing oppression in all forms, especially that of racial terrorism, including lynching, racial pogroms, and police brutality. The struggle for self-determination has taken shape in political activism like sit-ins, boycotts, walkouts, and strikes, much of which comprised the larger cultural efforts of the Civil Rights movement. The theme also recognizes events like the Haitian Revolution, as well as honoring those who escaped from plantations.
“Resistance” is not just direct action, but also things done to offset ill effects. To compensate for the lack of care received by Black people in mainstream medical facilities, Black medical professionals established nursing schools, hospitals, and clinics. Economic independence was fostered by businesses like the Binga Bank and the Johnson Publishing Company, which were developed to keep funds within the community. The foundation of Negro History Week served as a catalyst for Black teachers to critically educate their students about history, racial progress, and shared and collective responsibility. Historically Black Colleges and Universities would later foster the growth of artists, businesspeople, educators, and activists, further propelling the self-reliance of Black communities.
The wide spectrum of media has also played a significant role in Black resistance. Music, art, film, and photography have all been used to defy racist stereotypes and misrepresentations, while also expressing solidarity against oppression. Artists from the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and the Chicago Black Renaissance provided a dynamic face and soundtrack to resistance movements of the time, and modern Black artists continue to support contemporary efforts. In athletics, sport stars have used their position and fame to advocate for equality and speak out against hypocrisy and oppression.
The resistance efforts of Black communities have led to major triumphs and progress, like the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation, better political and media representation, desegregation of the education system, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the creation of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History. The legacy of these efforts can be seen in the blueprints for other social movements across the history of the United States. We invite you to study this legacy of resistance and community building!
Learn More: https://blackhistorymonth.gov/