Black History Month recognized in Pennsylvania this February

HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus have sponsored a resolution recognizing February 2023 as Black History Month in the commonwealth, according to state Rep. Donna Bullock, chair of the PLBC.

The Black History Month theme this year is “Black Resistance,” acknowledging that Black Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings.

“From slave revolts to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black Americans have consistently fought for freedom, democracy and the very soul of this country,” said Bullock, D-Phila., who is a prime sponsor of the measure. “That fight meant resisting white supremacy, resisting police and racial violence, and resisting oppressive legislation and policy. During our 50th anniversary, the PLBC will continue our work to advance anti-racist and restorative legislation and equitable state investments that will improve the lives of Black Pennsylvanians.”

Other prime sponsors of the bill are state Reps. Napoleon Nelson, D-Montgomery; Darisha Parker, D-Phila., and Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster.

“The resistance is a part of who we are everyday in this country,” said Parker, who serves as PLBC secretary. “Until we know there is equity, equality and justice in public and private policy, institutions and in the eyes of every American, we will not relinquish the power that we know resistance can bring. Until every single Pennsylvanian has the same opportunity for education, health, wealth and justice, we need to stay vigilant. The PLBC promotes and moves these agenda items in every corner of state government.”

Black History Month started as Negro History Week in the United States, created by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson envisioned the week commemorating the countless individuals from the Black community who had contributed to the advance of human civilization.

This vision later evolved in 1969 when students and educators at Kent State University promoted the idea of Black History Month (instead of a week), followed by its first celebration on campus in 1970. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling on the public to seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected and overlooked accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the PLBC. After meeting in secrecy for several years, the PLBC was formally organized by then House Majority Leader K. Leroy Irvis during the 1973-74 legislative session. The founding members saw the need for the caucus because they felt that legislators representing minority districts needed to speak with a united voice regarding the issues and concerns of their constituents. Today, the PLBC includes more than 30 members, representing urban, suburban and rural districts across the Commonwealth.