February marks Black History Month, when we celebrate the accomplishments of black Canadians of past and present. This month-long event is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of black Canadians to our communities, and to celebrate their traditions, culture and heritage.
Throughout the month, the Library recognizes the contributions African Canadians have made to our nation in areas of human rights, education, medicine, art and culture and economic growth.
Learn more about black Canadians by visiting a Library branch during the month. We have lots of resources for all ages.
At the Main Branch, our displays will be focused on black scientists. You will learn about their contributions to space exploration. These fantastic displays were researched and put together by our Teen Advisory Council together with community member Alarna Mckie. Special thanks to the Canadian Space Agency for providing some of the props used in the display.
The Origins of Black History Month
Black History Month originated in 1926 as “Negro History Week” in the United States by historian Carter G. Woodson, who proposed this celebration to honour the accomplishments of black Americans. He chose the second week in February because it marked the birthdays of two influential men: Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who both helped to abolish slavery.
In Canada, the idea was first celebrated within the Black community by railroad workers who had learned of it on their travels across the border during the 1950s. The celebration expanded from a week to a month, and after the Ontario Black History Society was formed in 1978, the City of Toronto successfully petitioned to have the celebration officially recognized by the following year. In December 1995, Toronto Member of Parliament Jean Augustine helped pass a motion to recognize Black History Month across Canada.