Feb. 1 marks the start of Black History Month, a federally recognized time to acknowledge the critical ways that African, African-American, and Pan-African people and cultures have contributed to U.S. history.

The Origins of Black History Month

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (Wikipedia)

Black History Month dates back to 1915, when Carter G. Woodson—a distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian—founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Eleven years later, Woodson branded the first “Negro History Week” to raise awareness of African American history. 

In 1976, Albert Broussard, a professor at Texas A&M University, morphed Woodson’s ideals into a month-long celebration: Black History Month. “We celebrate Black History Month in February because Black people had traditionally celebrated the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom were born in the month of February,” Broussard said. “Oftentimes Black history is taught as a celebration of this great man or this great woman, but that wasn’t what Woodson had in mind. He wanted this time to be a celebration of the achievement of Black people as a race, recognizing that Blacks were part of the history of this country from the very beginning.”

2022’s Theme: Health and Wellness

The theme for this year focuses on the importance of Black health and wellness. “This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora,” shared the ASALH. “Initiatives to help decrease disparities have centered several outcomes, including having more diverse practitioners and representation in all segments of the medical and health programs.” 

Black History in Colorado

Nineteenth-century Spanish and American expeditions brought people of African descent – both free and enslaved – into western territories. “From the enslaved explorer York who accompanied William Clark on the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1803, to civic leaders and activists of the 20th century, such as Denver resident Dr. Joseph Westbrook, the West held challenges and opportunities for Black/African Americans that were both typical and unique within the tapestry of American history,” notes the City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation department. “In every aspect of life in the American West, from the military to business to religious worship to community activism, Black Americans faced endemic racism but continued to fight for and win respect for their labor, their professional expertise, their influential talent, and their contributions to American culture and society.”

Get Involved

Colorado State University System

Within the CSU System, Colorado State University’s Black/African American Culture Center is hosting a month of programs and events highlighting Black History Month. With community programming extending beyond CSU and into the Fort Collins community, BAACC is offering events that are open to the public, both virtually and in-person, including:

  • Thursday, Feb. 10: Sybrina Fulton, Keynote Speaker | 6 p.m. MT at the Lory Student Center’s Grand Ballroom or attend virtually
  • Monday, Feb. 21: Nicole Lynn Lewis, Keynote Speaker | 12 p.m. MT at the Lory Student Center’s Grey Rock Room
  • Thursday and Friday, Feb. 10-11: Dining Experiences | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. MT at the Lory Student Center’s Aspen Grille ( call 970-491-7006 for reservations) 

Across the Nation

  • Friday, Feb. 4: Online Panel Discussion via the Smithsonian | A Seat at the Table: The Triumphs and Challenges of Black Education
  • Wednesday, Feb. 9: Online Event via the Library of Congress | Repatriates, Recaptives and African Abolitionists: The Untold Story of Liberia's Founding in 1822
  • Wednesday, Feb. 23: Online Book Talk via the National Archives | A House Built by Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House

In addition to the events listed above, CSU Global will continue to amplify the voices of our Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff throughout the year. Bookmark the CSU Global blog or follow us on social media (links in the right nav column) to stay updated on the Faces of Global series all year long.