Since 1976, Black History Month has been observed every February, but its origins date back half a century before its observance was formally established. In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), designated the second week of February—the week encompassing the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln—as “Negro History Week.”
While the study and celebration of Black history were never confined to a single week, it wasn’t until the bicentennial in 1976 that Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. In his address, President Gerald Ford called on Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The theme for Black History Month 2023 is Black Resistance. The ASALH notes that this year’s theme comes at a time when books are being banned and challenged at the highest rate in decades, and states are outlawing the teaching of history because it is seen as “divisive” or “uncomfortable.” The recognition of Black Resistance acknowledges the ways in which Black Americans have fought against and refused to comply with oppression and racial terrorism both collectively and as individuals.
See below for some of our titles that celebrate Black Resistance, or click here for a full list of titles in observance of Black History Month.