How is America celebrating Black History Month?

February marks the start of Black History Month, and cities around the country are celebrating differently. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Carter G. Woodson started the concept of Black History Month as a Black literature week that turned into a Black achievement week in 1924. Woodson chose February because both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born in February, and it was a common practice in Black spaces to celebrate the former president’s birthday. 

Black history week shifted into Black History Month around the 1960s, but was not formally accepted until 1976, when President Gerald Ford recognized it, according to

Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital holds one of the largest Black populations in the country, as well as many monuments, landmarks and museums commemorating Black history. On Feb. 1, the authors of “His Name is George Floyd” spoke at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, and the nightclub DC9 invited Black artists to perform sets, according to Washingtonian. On Feb. 5, there was a Black History Month celebration concert at Howard Community College featuring several genres whose invention is credited to Black artists. For the entire month, the great hall of the Thomas Jefferson building in the Library of Congress will have a Black History Month exhibit, with the theme “Black Resistance.”

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is near the movie capital of the country and has been a hub for American media for several decades. The Open Arms Food Pantry Community Resource Center is presenting the Los Angeles Black History Month Festival at the Michelle and Barack Obama sports park. The festival will feature a line up of many different Black artists, performers and authors on Feb. 19. There will also be booths for vendors to sell both food items and merchandise. On Feb 25, there will be a Black History Month Prosperity Market that has booths of Black farmers and artisans. The Department of Cultural Affairs will be hosting a multitude of different events in celebration of Black History Month.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is the setting for many monumental Black American history moments and is also where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel, which has been converted into the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum has a variety of different artifacts from Black history. The room where King stayed the day of his assassination is kept in the same condition that it was on the day of his assassination on April 4, 1968. Memphis is also home to the “Mother of Black churches,” Beale Street Baptist Church, and is home to the first Black newspaper, The Memphis Free Speech. There are many other Black history museums in Memphis, from the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum to the Blues Hall of Fame. 

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is another city that held many moments in Black history. There are many tours, including the New Orleans Slave Trade Tour and Audio Guide, where people can learn about the slave trade in New Orleans, which was one of the largest hubs of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The New Orleans African American Museum contains history and art by African Americans. Bayou Road is a strip of Black-owned shops, restaurants and bars, where people can go to support Black business owners. On Feb. 4, the Algiers Mardi Gras festival took place, and on Feb. 20, the Zulu Lundi Gras festival will take place.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is often regarded as the Black capital of the United States, and its population is more than 45% Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Atlanta History Center has three online exhibits about Black history, named “Explore Black Atlanta,” “United States Colored Troops” and “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow.” There are a variety of Black owned restaurants and businesses to frequent, including For Keeps Bookstore that holds a variety of literature from Black authors. From Feb. 16 to Feb. 19, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be performing five shows at the Fox Theater.