The Department of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico is celebrating Black History Month in February with a website page full of resources that include the history of Black History Month, Black scholar biographies, the African-American community at UNM, events, videos, research, and more.

“The goal of this webpage is to provide a variety of information and resources about Black and African American heritage in a single, easily accessible format that can facilitate learning, understanding, conversations and awareness,” said Jennifer George, Anthropology department administrator. “While by no means comprehensive, the page attempts to demonstrate the breadth of experiences, achievements, and ongoing struggles of Black people in America.”

“Black History Month – also known as African American History Month – is an opportunity to refocus attention on the issues facing Black people today as well as their significant accomplishments and perseverance over oppression.  As a community, UNM must be an agent for advocacy and education, and this is an important opportunity to work toward that goal,” George noted.

This year’s page highlights the designation of Africana Studies as a department at UNM and Kirsten Pai Buick as the department Chair. Also spotlighted are Kathy Powers, associate professor of Political Science and Associate Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, UNM African American Student Services and its director Brandi Stone, a new Black History project honoring Barbara Brown Simmons, an early founder of the Black studies program at UNM who passed away in July 2022, and other Black scholars.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Dr. Carter G. Woodson

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

― Carter G. Woodson

Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American's contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. 

The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort." 

"Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history." 

To find more resources for Black History, go to the Anthropology website.

Image: Slaves wait for freedom in Watch Meeting - Dec. 31st, 1862. Waiting for the Hour by William Tolman Carlton, 1863.