Black History Month: The Past and The Future

Black History Month
Influential black historical figures. Photo courtesy of


Black History Month in the U.S. 

February 1st commences the annual celebration of Black History Month. This month aims to educate people on why we honor, acknowledge and celebrate the monumental impact of African Americans, both in history and in the present.

We are able to learn and recognize historical events from slavery to the abolishment of slavery, the Civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter.

NYC action in solidarity with Ferguson. Mo, encouraging a boycott of Black Friday Consumerism. Photo courtesy of

Black history month highlights the honorable people marked in history such as Harriett Tubman who saved 300 black people enslaved from bondage, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who urged for racial equality, the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first black soldiers to have entered the Army Air Forces to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, who was our first black president.

The Civil Rights Movement is among the main reasons why we celebrate Black History month. The movement was a call to action in the 1950s and 1960s to end segregation in communities, racial discrimination and to have equal rights for everyone including African Americans. Among the well-known noble civil right activists during this movement were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Diane Nash to name a few.

Black History Month began in 1915, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian, committed his life to educate black people on the political, social, and economic accomplishments of fellow black people and their ancestors.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Photo courtesy of

Before we called it Black history month, it was “Negro History Week”. This was during the week of our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglas birthdays. Both their birthdays were in the month of February. Woodson chose Lincoln and  Douglas because of their actions towards the abolishment of slavery. Now, the whole month of February is dedicated to the cause of educating people on African-American history.


Black History Month in Jersey City

Throughout Jersey City, Black History month is celebrated, with the Jersey City Municipal Council and The Office of Cultural Affairs hold programs honoring noble African American. The Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum in Greenville, Jersey City celebrates with programs that display the history and culture of Afro-americans. According to, the founder of the museum, Theodore Brunson, had an interest in Afro-american history and developed the idea of the museum with Nora Fant and Virgina Dunnaway.

Theodore Brunson (second from left), at Afro-American Historical Society Museum. Photo courtesy of Afro-American Historical Society Museum.

Jersey City is also home to significant landmarks in Black history as it was the last stop of the Underground Railroad. In an excerpt from the New Jersey City University (NJCU) library, numerous slaves from different states and cities traveled to Jersey City. According to the excerpt: “There were twelve escape lines on the route; the four major lines that started from Camden, Salem, Greenwich and Trenton all converged at “stations” such as Bordentown or Burlington and headed for Jersey City…Some escaped slaves traveled to Newark and used the Belleville Turnpike to get to Jersey City.”

Prominent Black Figures of Jersey City 

Noteworthy people within the Jersey City community who have positively contributed to Black history include:

Civil rights activist Earl Morgan, who worked his way through the social and political issues in the community. He was a longtime journalist, who reported for the Jersey Journal.

Black History Month
Jersey Journal columnist Earl Morgan. Photo courtesy of

On July 1, 2001, we received our first African-American mayor, Glenn Cunningham. Before his election as mayor, Cunningham was a former Marine, member of the JCPD for 25 years, and  had been appointed by President Bill Clinton as head of New Jersey’s United States Marshals Service Office.

Jersey City’s first African American Mayor. Photo courtesy of

Jersey City native, civil rights lawyer, Raymond A. Brown, was a driving force in defending Black people in the community. Back in the 1970s, he was able to prevent three members of the Black Panther Party from being imprisoned after the attacks at a Jersey City police station. Brown did not want to work for Law firms because of his passion to help issues in the community on his own.

Black History Month
Civil rights lawyer, Raymond A. Brown. Photo courtesy of

Today, thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, African Americans are honored and acknowledged for their achievements through adversity. Although this celebration is only one month, African Americans continue to create history every day through mediums such as the arts, in entertainment, and by continuing to strive for equality and justice.

Upcoming Events in Jersey City

To celebrate Black History Month in Jersey City see upcoming events here!

Kenise Brown
Author: Kenise Brown