Saturday, February 2, 2013

Video: Black History Month USA 2013 - A special celebration

Photo: Black American family after the Emancipation
For Black History Month in the US this a very special year. This year it's 150 years ago American President Lincoln issued the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. This document changed America, ended slavery and gave African-Americans hope for equality. And this year it's 50 years ago Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech in the famous March on Washington in 1963.

Because in Europe our knowledge of Black America is sometimes limited to what we see on TV, a few videos to remind us why Black Americans celebrate Black History Month, but also why some people are against it. 

Why February

Black History is celebrated on February on because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.


On January 1, 1863, as America entered its third year of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It exempted many parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control. Most importantly, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory. Read the full story at 

Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard University about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation

Exhibition of pictures of African-Americans after the Emancipation

I have a dream

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on August 28th, 1963 in Washington D.C. More than 200,000 demonstrators took part in the walk. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, noting that the Emancipation Proclamation gave hope to black slaves. The following year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a concrete step towards fulfilling the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Speeches and Criticism

Black History Month in London: Attallah, the daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcom X. Great speech!

An interesting lecture of Dr. Cornel West on BHM

But there is some criticism: End Black History Month

And Still I Rise 

Maya Angelou and the poem "And Still I Rise" - published in Angelou's poem collection titled And Still I Rise in 1978

Barack Obama Video - "Still I Rise" by Yolanda Adams

Other Black History celebrations

UK - celebrates BHM in October
Germany - celebrates BHM in February
The Netherlands - doesn't have an official BHM, but there are events organised in February
France - also doesn't have an official BHM, but there are events organised in February
Brazil - celebrates Black Awareness Month in November


  1. "Because in Europe our knowledge of Black America is sometimes limited to what we see on TV..."

    I never knew black Europeans were so clueless about African Americans since many of our struggles for civil rights are emulated in many countries from South Africa, to Brasil to Bashra etc., and our culture, our music, and our way of dress is emulated world-wide.

    1. Hi Laura, I can't speak for all black Europeans, but I presume that black and white Europeans don't know the details of the history of Frederick Douglass, the Emancipation Declaration and why some black Americans are against Black History Month. Martin Luther King and Obama are of course global icons, I've added them because they belong in this post.

      I personally feel there is much more to black America than civil right, sports and music, because that's we usually seen on TV in Europe. That's why I included the history of the emancipation declaration.

    2. Afro-Europe provides many topics to educate readers. I have reviewed many historical topics that I did not know about blacks in Europe and other countries, so I guess I was clueless too. We do not see anything about blacks in Europe, in the States, and that's very sad. We are all limited about what we know about our culture and history, so keep doing what it is that you do - - EDUCATE and raise awareness.

    3. Laura, thanks for the comment. :)

  2. Well done Afro-Europe! I will share this on the "Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour' Facebook page and Website. Thank you.

  3. Just for the record it's Black History Month in Canada too. For you twitter users there is a very informative Hashtag you can use to get more info. Just enter #cdnBHM in the search box and I think you'll be plesantly surprised.


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