PSG Celebrates Black History Month

The History of Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated annually in the United States from February 1st to February 28th. Black History Month was originally conceived as a week by historian, Carter G. Woodson, in 1926 and officially designated as a month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. Black History Month is a time to recognize, celebrate, and honor the contributions, achievements, and legacy of African/Black people in the US.

Equally important, this is a time to raise awareness about the experiences and needs of African/Black people. Other countries around the world, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom, participate in annual observances of Black History. While Black History Month is celebrated in the month of February, Black History is an ongoing development advanced throughout the African diaspora every day.

Among the notable figures often spotlighted during Black History Month are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for equal rights for Blacks during the 1950s and ’60s; Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967; Mae Jemison, who became the first female Black astronaut to travel to space in 1992; and Barack Obama, who was elected the first-ever Black president of the United States in 2008.

February is the birth month of two figures who loom large in the Black past: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (born February 12), who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and African American abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass (born February 14). Since the deaths of Lincoln and Douglass (in 1865 and 1895, respectively), the Black community had celebrated their contributions to African American liberation and civil rights on their birthdays.

By rooting Negro History Week in February, Woodson sought to both honor the inestimable legacy of Lincoln and Douglass and to expand an already existent celebration of the Black past to include not only the accomplishments of these two great individuals but also the history and achievements of Black people in general.

As early as the 1940s, some communities had transformed February into Negro History Month. With the ascendance of the American civil rights movement and the rise of Black consciousness in the 1960s, Negro History Week had become Black History Month in more and more places. In 1976 the association that Woodson had founded (later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) facilitated the widespread institutionalization of February as Black History Month, and U.S. President Gerald Ford urged Americans to participate in its observance. All subsequent presidents would do the same, sometimes referring to the event as National Afro-American (Black) History Month or National African American History Month.

How PSG is Celebrating: 28 Days of Black History

Offices across the company have compiled a list of stories, music performances, podcasts and other content that chronicles the Black American and Black Canadian experiences.

Learn Black history in 5 minutes a day and celebrate Black History Month this February.

Canada Central/West (Key Contact: Nikki Boechler)

US Offices (Key Contact: Wendy Webb)

  • Black History event calendars for each region in the US will be sent via email and posted for all shop employees in Heath Springs, Knoxville, Albuquerque and Arlington.
  • Regional Black History Month events and current local leaders will be featured, and information to be sent via email throughout the month and posted for all shop employees. Activities in offices may include:
    • HESP Photo Board
    • Matching Child Photos to Adult Photos
    • Prize for the most matches
  • Family Tree Feature for Charlene Mingo, an HESP employee with a family history of 7 generations. Her ancestors were slaves in South Carolina and her family is currently active in the local Black community. We will share this feature for posting on the EDI corner, once complete.
  • HESP Food Tasting Day (a can’t miss potluck) with a visit from the Heath Springs mayor.
  • Essential Reading (PDF): 2023 Black History Month Regional Pioneers

Eastern Canada (Key Contact: Christian Duguay)

As part of Black History Month, we’ll be inviting a speaker that is heavily involved in the new arrival initiatives for the Edmundston area. Additionally, Lori-Ann Cyr of Diversis, an agency providing businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies and communities with the necessary tools to develop their full potential through immigration and cultural diversity, will present various point of views and struggles of our new arrivals to Canada.

Most of the new arrivals to Edmundston are Black, which is something we’ve very rarely seen here in the past 20, 10 or even 5 years. Our staff will discover how to make newcomers feel at home and build a strong feeling of acceptance.

More information about Lori-Ann Cyr can be found on her LinkedIn page.

Learn more and let’s celebrate together. Here is just a very small sampling to get your started (click an image below).