Black History Month worldwide: dates, background and does it actually exist in Germany? (2024)

One thing right from the start: Black history shouldn't just be given a stage during Black History Month. Nevertheless, it was and is the first step in the right direction, namely to network and strengthen black communities and to give space to black history, culture and their representatives in the general public. But why is this occasion “celebrated” on different dates in different countries? Black history has long been remembered, especially in the USA, Canada and Great Britain. In Germany, this occasion and its significance is only slowly gaining more attention.

Here you can find out everything about Black History Month worldwide.

Why is there Black History Month?

Black History Month is about Black peopleAllow more space in public, rewrite narratives and make history and the realities of life visible. This can happen in a variety of ways – for example through readings, workshops, exhibitions, discussion groups, film screenings and much more. Not only in Germany, but also in most other countries with a white majority society, the black influence on history, traditions and culture is often “overlooked”.

Any “non-white” parts of history as well as non-white world events are recorded in these countriesoften given little attention. A suitable example of this is the portrayal of Christopher Columbus as a successful globetrotter and explorer. What is not mentioned in return is that he played a key roleColonialism and the slave tradewas involved, which was driven by the dehumanization of the indigenous population. There are countless false representations like this.

Stories that have previously been pushed to the margins should finally find their deserved place in Black History Month, as wellstructural problems and experiences of racism. These hurdles and experiences are everyday for black communities, in complete contrast to the (white)majority society. As a result, these realities of life often fade into the background.

With Black History Month, a new attempt is made year after year to reflect on what has happened and to tell the realities accordingly.

Black History Month in den USAand Canada

Period:February

Black History Month has its origins in the USA. There were already in the 1910s and 20scomparable movementslike the Harlem Renaissance - an era that paved the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s around Martin Luther King Jr. Important representatives of this period included Zora Neal Hurston, Nella Larsen and James Baldwin.

Black History Month takes place in the United States and Canada in the month of February anddeveloped from theBlack History Week(Name revised by editors), diefor the first time in 1926and always took place in the second week of February. In February wereimportant representativesBlack history-makers such as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes, whose birthdays have previously been celebrated together by Black communities. These people played an important role in the abolition of slavery.

The first official Black History Month took place1970 an der Kent State Universityin the US state of Ohio. This was initiated byCarter G. Woodson, which therebybring African American history closer to the general publicwanted. At the time, neither the history nor the culture of Black people were covered in history books.

If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

Carter G. Woodson

This quote from the historian roughly translates to: “If a ‘race’ has no history, then it has no worthwhile tradition. It is becoming a negligible factor in the world’s thinking and is in danger of being wiped out.”

Note: Due to a lack of synonymous terms in German, “Race” is adopted from English.The term “race” categorizes biologically(such as with animal breeds), the term “race” is about the man-made, social phenomenon.

1976 was Black History Monthofficially recognized and expanded from a week to an entire month. The then US President Gerald Ford proclaimed Black History Month, or BHM for short, to mark the bicentennial of the United States.He urged American residents, “to seize the opportunity to recognize the far too often neglected achievements of Black Americans in all areas of our history.”

The BHM met with an enthusiastic response, especially in black communities, led to the formation of various clubs and associations and stimulated general interest. Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated February as Black History Month.

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Black History Month in Deutschland

Period:February

Black History Month in Germany mainly takes place in Berlin and other large cities and has become a fixture, especially for the Black German community.

In 1990 the Black German Initiative (ISD)for the first timeorganized a Black History “Month” in Berlin, which lasted about a week. Together with other organizations, cultural, political and intellectual events were organized at that timePeople of Colorfrom different countries, black Germans, African-American people and many others produced and disseminated knowledge.

Participants were informed about the diversity of African diaspora history in Europe (and elsewhere). Additionally wasLight into the darkness of German colonial history on the African continentwhich, despite its devastating consequences, is relatively invisible and hardly appears in history books.

Soon this concept spread to several weeks and to other cities like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich, where public space was claimed for Black thought and suchdeliberately a statement against Germany's silence in this regardwas set.

People from many different backgrounds came together and showed solidarity. This made it possible to discuss the realities of life, create goals and perspectives and set demands together.

In 2001 the BHM was discontinued for various reasons, including financing. It wasn't until 2009 that Black History Month was organized again, this time by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and the Federal Agency for Civic Education. Today, various organizations are joining forces to make black and black-German history visible. Also will be agreat focus on cultural workersthat make an important contribution to society.

Black History Month in Großbritannien

Period:October

For the first timeThe BHM took place in Great Britain in October 1987 under the leadership of the Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. He was working as a special projects coordinator for the Greater London Council (GLC) and raised awareness of the need for this month. His plan wasContributions from people from Africa, Asia and the Caribbeanon the economic, cultural and political life of Great Britainto appreciate.

The first event that gave rise to Black History Month was a visit by the AmericanDr. Maulana Karenga, which sought to honor the contributions of Black individuals throughout history. Presumably this event fell in October as this is the first full month of the school year. As a result, more and more parts of the UK declared October as Black History Month.

Black History Month in other countries

Ireland

Ireland, more specifically Cork first, launched Black History Month in 2010.2014The BHM was then “celebrated” across the country. But why does it have its origins in Cork of all places? During the times of the transatlantic slave trade, the city became a kind of stronghold for theabolitionismand was visited by a number of formerly enslaved people who fought for abolition - including Frederick Douglass,whose speeches and fights had a strong influence therehad.

Find the eventsin Octoberinstead of.

Netherlands

In the NetherlandsBlack Achievement Monthis calledsince 2015 annually in OctoberCulture from the Black Diaspora is honored and presented with theater, dance, readings and other cultural events.

These take place in cultural centers across the country, such as in Leiden, Utrecht, Middelburg, Almere, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Originallyinitiated by former politician John LeerdamBAM was created in collaboration withNational Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy. Since then, BAM has developed into an event that connects the history, present and future of the African diaspora.

There are also numerous connections to the African diaspora worldwide, especially in the former Dutch colonies.

Italy

Florence called in 2016Black History Month Florenz (BHMF)to “celebrate” the stories of the diaspora in Italy. In 2018 Bologna was awarded theBlack History Month Bolognabecame the second Italian city to offer events during the month, followed laterRomand other cities.

The BHMF initiative aims to highlight the cultures of the African diaspora communities in Florence and throughout Italy, with the main eventsin Februarytake place. In 2021 there was a collaboration with the famousUffizi-Galleries in Florence that offered a virtual exhibition. The focus was on the presence of black figures in Renaissance paintings and their contextualization.

“Black” is capitalized in this article (as in the political self-designation) because it isis not a real or biological “property”.Rather, it refers to a man-made social position affected by racism.

Black History Month worldwide: dates, background and does it actually exist in Germany? (2024)

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