Why Black History Month 2019 Will Focus on Black Migrations

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Every February in the U.S. is officially designated as Black History Month. This month honors the legacy of those who have fought, and continue to fight, for full legal and societal equality for people of color in the United States. Its origins lie in one Harvard-studied historian’s desire to educate the public on how black men and women have contributed to American society across the board.

Each year, The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), which founded Black History Month, chooses a theme to celebrate black life in the United States or to highlight an issue facing the black community. This year, the theme is “Black Migrations.” The ASALH has given this year’s month this theme because it “emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.”

There are many ways in which the ASALH is tying this theme to modern issues facing black people. Among the sub-themes of Black History Month’s Black Migrations focus, for example, is mass incarceration, which has been shown time and time again to disproportionately affect people of color, especially black people. It has also been argued that mass incarceration is effectively modernized slavery.

To learn more about the Black Migrations theme and black history in general during this full month of celebration, visit Black History Month’s Exhibitions and Collections page for resources. Black History Month runs now through February 28.

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