The New Year is moving quickly and February is already nearly half way through. Aside from the arctic weather conditions, the heart-shaped balloons and the Sochi Olympics, this month is a very unique time to recognize and celebrate the significant role of African Americans and their outstanding contributions to the United States throughout history.
In 1926, African American historian and author Carter G. Woodson initiated the celebration of Black History Week, which, unsurprisingly, coincided with the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Civil War President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial, the week grew to encompass the entire month. Since then, every U.S. president has officially declared February as Black History Month.
The Significance of February
Many key events in African American history took place in February. Here are just a few:
While six points in history are far from capturing the African American struggle for freedom and justice, they are a snapshot of events and people, both known and anonymous, that helped transformed this nation. The process they established continues to challenge our nation’s perception of equality and social progress. Hence, the significance of Black History Month lies in looking back and understanding how far we have come to draw the strength and wisdom necessary to move forward.
The Case of Mental Illness
Mental illness, without any further distinction, affects one in four Americans. However, experiences of mental illness vary across cultures and there is a need for improved cultural awareness and corresponding competence in the health care and mental health workforce.
Sensitivity to African American cultural differences, their unique views of mental illness and propensity towards developing certain mental illnesses, can improve African Americans’ treatment experiences and increase their utilization of mental health care services. To learn more, please visit NAMI’s African American Resources page.
How You Can Become the Change Starting Today
Observe African American History Month proactively.
We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.
Check out our Submission Guidelines for more information.
In a crisis? Call or text 988.
Find Your Local NAMI