Dr. Carter G. Woodson was an American historian and writer, and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH). Through this organization he sought to bring to light the accomplishments, history, and contributions of African Americans. The association began publishing the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (1937), both of which are still published today. This year ASAALH is offering a virtual celebration as well.
In 1926 Carter G. Woodson began the celebration of Negro History Week to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. By 1976 the celebration grew to be the month of February. Every year Black History Month is celebrated in schools, museums, archives, and libraries.
Each year ASAAHL assigns a theme to guide the exploration of black history and culture. This year it's Black Health and Wellness.
The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.
In order to foster good health and wellness Black people have embarked on self-determination, mutual aid and social support initiatives to build hospitals, medical and nursing schools (i.e. Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Provident Hospital and Training School, Morehouse School of Medicine, etc.) and community clinics. Clinics were established by individuals, grassroots organizations and mutual aid societies, such as the African Union Society, National Association of Colored Women and Black Panther Party, to provide spaces for Black people to counter the economic and health disparities and discrimination that are found at mainstream institutions. These disparities and anti-Blackness led to communities developing phrases such as “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.” Initiatives to help decrease disparities have centered several outcomes, including having more diverse practitioners and representation in all segments of the medical and health programs including such as the Ronald E. McNair Scholars. Even the impact of popular culture texts like Doc McStuffins cannot be dismissed.