Fresh February: Black History Month

Who doesn't love a new month, a fresh start, a fresh February? Realistically, every day is an opportunity to learn, grow and become better versions of ourselves, which is a big reason why we do what we do. But this month, we wanted to highlight Black History Month and bring the celebration and recognition to the many achievements by African Americans and their central role in U.S. history to the forefront of our minds.

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, began in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and others of African descent was founded by Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian and Jesse E. Moorland, the prominent minister. The organization is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, the group sponsored a national Negro History week, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Schools and communities nationwide were inspired by the event and organized their own local celebrations. Mayors across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing the week, and by the late 1960s, partially as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, there was a growing awareness of the Black identity, and Negro History week became Black History month on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History month and encouraged the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history". Every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History month since, and other countries around the world including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month celebrating Black history.

Since 1976, every American president has also endorsed a specific theme for Black History month. The 2021 theme for Black History month: "Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity" explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.

In honor of this month's theme, we would like to recognize and bring awareness to Black-owned fitness studios as they are underrepresented in our communities and culture. Some of you may be familiar with Sonja R. Price Herbert, founder of Black Girl Pilates, which is a community and platform she created for Black/Afro-Latina women who also teach Pilates and have a space for support and belonging while they work to bring attention to the areas they are underrepresented inside and out of the fitness sphere. We are inspired by Black Girl Pilates as well as the other Black fitness instructors who are committed to creating these much needed spaces that need to be honored and recognized. We can do our part by learning of these communities local to us and showing our support. A few ways to observe this month can be participating in online events, taking virtual field trips, reading books and watching documentaries to educate ourselves while becoming allies for racial justice and investing in Black businesses. Organizations across the country are providing safe ways to celebrate the month virtually, which is truly a gift without having the option of travel due to the pandemic. There is so much to be celebrated and new ways to creatively seek these opportunities, and the virtual element increases our exposure. Let's strive to make this an ongoing effort not just this month, but as often as we can.