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The story behind Black History Month, what it stands for, and why it's important

The theme of Black History Month this year is “Black resistance," where we honor the great achievements of many who have lived and died in the United States.

ARKANSAS, USA — According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, this year’s theme is “Black resistance," and they say this theme commemorates the work of Black Americans and others who stood up to racial segregation through education, gospel, sports, and medicine. 

The annual tradition dates back to the 1920s.

“Celebrating the accomplishments through Black History Month doesn’t take away from any other community. it doesn’t diminish the value of any of group, it just amplifies the voices of those of us who have been systemically oppressed,” said Fayetteville City Council Member D’Andre Jones.

“Negro history week” is a predecessor of Black History Month and since 1976, every U.S. president has recognized the month in February. 

“As Carter G. Woodson said, 'if people don’t know their history and they don’t celebrate it…then it’s forgotten,'” said Dr. Coby Davis.

Dr. Davis says the reason Black history is celebrated in February is that Fredrick Douglas celebrated his birthday during that time—he was a slave, so he did not know his exact date of birth, and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was in February.

“I think it was more for African Americans than it was for anyone else, and so we want to spend some time making sure, our people know about our people,” Davis explained.

As for the NAACP, the organization started in 1909, to ensure equality for minority groups in America and eliminate racial prejudice. In Northwest Arkansas, the chapter started in 2013 with the same mission in mind. 

"Most people don't know we're helping people who have racial injustices. There are people whether it's at their job, housing complex, or school that are being mistreated because of race and the NAACP is active in those conversations." 

 “I don’t think we can really talk about our Black history without mentioning the work of the forefathers—especially Dr. King’s: love for all, love for humanity,” Jones said.

Council member D'Andre Jones is heavily involved with change in the community and he says he carries out Black history every day through service and leadership.

"It's very important for me to lead and live by example and leading and living by example is of course being involved... making sure I have a seat at the table, making sure others have their voices at the table, and making sure every perspective is heard and valued," Jones explained. 

Dr. Coby Davis says you can honor Black history month by supporting Black-owned businesses and being a listener to the black community, not only during February but every day of the year.

Click here for a full list of Black history month events happening across 5 country.

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