Celebrate Black Histories and Futures Month
Feb. 1 marks the start of Black Histories and Futures Month and the ensuing four weeks will offer opportunities for the Queen’s and Kingston communities to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate the contributions – both past and present – made by Black communities in Canada and beyond.
“The celebration of Black Histories and Futures Month reminds us of the important contributions Black community members have made to research, literature, the arts, politics, and more,” says Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion). “Our focus on the future includes Queen’s commitment to supporting current and future Black students, staff, and faculty by actioning the Scarborough Charter, addressing anti-Black racism, and promoting inclusive excellence and Black flourishing.”
The schedule of Black Histories and Futures Month (BHFM) events will be ushered in on Wednesday, Jan. 31 with the Opening Address to the Community starting at noon. The 45-minute, virtual event will serve as a moment to embrace the spirit of Black Histories and Futures Month, while reaffirming a commitment of support for the Black community. Additionally, the global calendar for BHFM will be officially released.
On Feb. 9, the Hyve takeover for Black students at Yellow House will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at their office spaces in the Rideau Building on campus. The event serves as a moment to honour Black creators at Queen’s.
That evening, Kingston Grand Theatre will host the Black Histories and Futures Month Reception, which will feature authentic Afro-Caribbean food. The two-hour reception, which starts at 5:30 p.m., will be followed by a performance by world-renowned Drag Superstar, Tynomi Banks, presented by Grand OnStage.
Black Histories and Futures Month is a relatively new approach to Black History Month. This new vision, introduced by Movement 4 Black Lives in 2015, facilitates the intentional action of looking at the past, acknowledging the struggles, and achievements, of Black communities, while promoting an equitable future, continued accomplishments, and a commitment to ongoing education.
In 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada. The Senate adopted a motion in 2008, however, efforts were made long before those two dates to establish a month set aside for Black history. One of the earliest moments came in 1978 with the foundation of the Ontario Black History Society and their petition to the City of Toronto to proclaim February as Black History Month. The following year, the City of Toronto issued a proclamation, bringing the monthlong recognition to be in that city.
The origin of Black History Month can be found in the United States where historian, journalist, and author Carter G. Woodson initially developed a week dedicated to the history and accomplishments of Black Americans. That was in 1926. February was chosen because it was the month in which orator and author Frederick Douglas and former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, were born.
Black History and Futures Month – its founding in 1926 and its almost 100-year legacy – serves as a catalyst for conversation to ensure the positive impacts of Black communities are recognized, celebrated and taught well beyond four weeks in February.
Note: This story was originally published in The Gazette.