Black History Month colours fully explained: What do they stand for?

Black History Month colours fully explained: What do they stand for?

Are you proud of your ancestry? In the United States of America and Canada, Black History Month (BHM) is celebrated in February. This period honours and recognises African patrimony, and the Black History Month colours have deep meanings.

Black history month colours
A picture to mark BHM. Photo: pixabay.com, @ekavesh
Source: UGC

In 1920, The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) created the BHM flag. The Black History Month colours on the flag honour the ancestry, knowledge, culture, and heritage of people of African descent. In February, people of colour who played crucial roles in freeing their people from oppressors are honoured.

What is Black History Month and why is it celebrated?

BHM is a month-long celebration marked annually in the United States of America and other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. During this period, people honour, appreciate and recognise the contributions and achievements of people of African descent.

When did Black History Month start?

BHM started being celebrated officially in the 1970s, but its history dates to 1915. The celebration is Carter G. Woodson's creation.

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In the summer of 1915, Woodson travelled to mark the 50th anniversary of emancipation in Illinois. Many other people also travelled to view the exhibits showing the progress made by people of colour towards ending slavery.

The experience inspired him to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The association aimed to heighten awareness about these achievements. Through the association, he created the Negro History Week in February 1926.

Later, the shift to a month-long celebration commenced. In 1976, the celebration was institutionalised from a week to a month. The name was also changed from Negro history to BHM. Since the 1970s, every sitting American president has endorsed BHM and given a theme for each year. The themes for the last few years are listed below.

  • Black Health and Wellness (2022)
  • The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity (2021)
  • African Americans and the Vote (2020)
  • Black Migrations (2019)
  • African Americans in Times of War (2018)
  • The Crisis in African Education (2017)
  • Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories (2016)
  • A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture (2015)
  • Civil Rights in America (2014)

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What is Black History Month and why is it celebrated?
African people marching for equality. Photo: unsplash.com, @libraryofcongress
Source: UGC

What are the colours of Black History Month?

What are the colours for Black History Month? The official colours of BHM are black, red, yellow, and green. These are also known as the Pan African colours. Initially, yellow was not included on the list.

The Ethiopian flag inspired the addition of yellow. Ethiopia is the only African nation that was not colonised due to its indigenous people being too powerful for Europeans to handle.

Meaning of black history colours

What does each of the colours of Black History Month represent?

  • Black: It represents the melanated skin colour of Africans or people of African descent.
  • Yellow: It represents optimism, justice, and equality for all people.
  • Green: It symbolises Africa's rich greenery and other God-given natural resources.
  • Red: It symbolises the excruciating bloodshed people of colour underwent during the battle against slavery, racism, and colonialism.

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In February each year, businesses usually use flags or banners with the colours for Black History Month to commemorate this crucial period. Students and the public also hold special elaborate events in various institutions to promote an understanding of the culture and heritage of African people.

When did Black History Month start?
A picture of the official colours of BHM. Photo: @Getty Images Plus
Source: Getty Images

Why was Black History Month chosen in February?

Woodson chose this month because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass commemorated their birthdays in February. The two marked their important days on 12th and 14th February, respectively.

He desired to honour the legacy of the two prominent figures because the two made significant contributions to shaping the African-American record of events. He also chose to make it a period for people to mark and honour the achievements of African people in general, not just the two.

Numerous African-American persons have made significant contributions to the world's history. Their achievements were in different fields and sectors. Some fought for equality and freedom from oppression and slavery.

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Who is the most important Black person in history?

It is incredibly challenging to pinpoint a single person who is the most important because many people of colour made significant contributions to America. Among them are Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln.

While some important figures ended slavery, others made significant contributions in other fields such as sports and inventions. What did black people invent? Garrett Morgan invented the three-light traffic signal, McKinley Jones developed refrigerated trucks, Alexander Miles invented automated elevator doors, and James E. West co-invented the electret microphone.

What are 5 facts about Black History Month?

  • BHM was not always a month. Initially, it was only a week-long event.
  • Besides founding BHM, Carter G. Woodson established the Journal of Negro History in 1916 and the Negro History Bulletin in 1937.
  • Its roots can be traced to 1915, and Carter G. Woodson is its founder.
  • BHM is marked in February because that was the month Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born.
  • Every year, BHM has a different theme. The theme for 2022 was Black Health and Wellness.

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Did you know that the Black History Month colours have symbolic meanings? Every February, some countries mark BHM to commemorate the contributions made by people of African descent in shaping America.

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Briefly.co.za recently published a list of 50 black actresses under 30 with a bright future. Most of them were child actresses who have honed their acting skills over the years.

They have featured in various television shows and films, and they include Ariana Neal, Willow Smith, Demi Singleton, Zora Howard, Zazie Beets, Keke Palmer, and Rhyon Nicole Brown.

Source: Briefly News

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