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Black History Month 2023

Black History Month cut out words with black and white images of historic Black figures behindBlack History Month, also known as African American History Month, is a federally recognized annual observance of Black history. In celebration, the GenCen is highlighting campus resources, sharing community events, and providing additional resources & media to engage with.

The History Behind Black History Month

a young Carter G Woodson.pngThe origin of Black History Month dates back to the early 20th century when Carter G. Woodson, a historian and Harvard graduate, worked alongside other prominent Black Americans to bring awareness to the accomplishments of the Black community. Woodson worked to establish the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915 and in 1925 the organization created and announced the first “Negro History Week” to take place in February, 1926. February was chosen to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, prominent figures in Black history, whose birthdays were already established as time of celebration for the Black community throughout the late 19th and into the 20th century. In conjunction with elevated calls for civil rights and increased efforts to include Black history into education, February became federally recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

Woodson emphasized that this celebration once a year was not enough. In order to truly honor and celebrate Black history we need to incorporate into our daily teachings and understandings.

[Image is of a young Carter G Woodson, courtesy of]


Resources on the History of Black History Month

Origins of Black History Month (ASALH):

About African American History Month:

Black History Milestones: Timeline (

The Reason Black History Month is in February (Jean-Philippe, 2021):


Campus Resources

We believe that it is important to spotlight other organizations at MSU that are doing good work in the community. Follow the links below to learn more about campus resources that empower and support Black, African, and African American students, faculty, and community members.

Department of African American and African Studies:

African Studies Center:

Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions and Black Student Alliance Programming:

Black Students' Alliance:

Black Registered Student Organizations (compiled by MSU BSA):

Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion:

Inclusive Campus Initiative:

African American Culture in Lansing:


Read more below to check out some of the exciting and historic events happening in the MSU community this month.


William G. Anderson Lecture Series: Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey

William G. Anderson, D.O., was a founder of the Albany Movement, a seminal struggle for civil rights in Georgia in the 1960s, and the first African American to have been elected national president of the American Osteopathic Association. Now in its 23rd year, this program gives members of the mid-Michigan community opportunities to interact with multicultural leaders from education, business, industry, entertainment and government. 

This year's speakers include Marley Dias, Dr. Angela Davis, and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.

Learn more and register here: Link

Sankofa Project

The MSU Office of K-12 Outreach invites you to register for the 2023 Black History Month Sankofa Project events taking place throughout the month of February.  These events will be free of charge and open to all. The goal for this year's event is to highlight the historical and cultural link between the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the Black Lives Matter of Michigan Movement. The essence behind the meaning of the word Sankofa is to look back in the past to inform the future. 
Learn more and register here: Link


Douglass DayPainted portraits of historical figures with text saying Douglass Day program featuring papers of Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Please join MSU Law faculty, staff, and students as we celebrate the birth of one of the most significant figures in Black History, Frederick Douglass.

After Douglass died in 1895, African American communities gathered to celebrate his birthday every year on February 14th. These memorials offered a space for reflection on the past as well as discussion of the present. Douglass Day has since become an important part of Black History Month in this country.

As part of this year’s inaugural celebration, we will examine the works of 19th century abolitionist and journalist Mary Ann Shadd Cary in a transcribe-a-thon of her papers. Cary was the first Black woman publisher in North America, the first woman publisher in Canada, and the second Black woman to attend law school in the U.S.

Learn more and register here: Link

Black Empowerment Festival

Celebrate Black History Month with The Black Students' Alliance and The University Activities Board as we host the 4th annual Black Empowerment Festival with activities, free soul food, and free t-shirts, while supplies last. 

Learn more: Link

Additional Resource Lists

Black History Month Resource Guide for Educators and Families

Center for Racial Justice in Education
Compiled list of resources for educators when it comes to centering Black voices in the classroom such as teaching Black Lives Matter in schools, why we need Black History Month, and how to center Black women and girls in schools.

Black History Month: A reading list of books by Black UCLA faculty

University of California Los Angeles
List of 10 books to read to celebrate Black History Month selected by Black faculty at UCLA.

Black Fiction Books

Compiled list of books tagged and shelved as ‘Black fiction’ on Goodreads.

Black Lives Matter: A Reading List

Left Bank Books
A community curated list of literature around race with categories such as civil rights history, memoirs, and readings on policing and incarceration.

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