Did you know that Black History Month has roots associated with the YMCA? In 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a University of Chicago alumnus, arrived in Chicago to attend a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois.
Inspired by this three-week celebration where thousands of African Americans had travelled from across the country to see exhibits that highlighted the progress of their people since the end of slavery, Woodson met at the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago with a small group and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This began the foundation that would create Negro History and Literature Week, renamed Negro Achievement Week, later Negro History Week and eventually Black History Month.
Known as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson wanted the study of past black life to have significant impact stating, “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.” It is important to note that the focus of Black History month has been on black achievements since enslavement in the US, however, Woodson’s intent was to explore modern black history as a starting point to deeper exploration beyond the arrival of enslaved Africans in the Americas.
To celebrate and honor this tradition, the Skagit Valley Family YMCA will be celebrating Black History Month by wearing black on Feb 26th with the global Y community. We Wear Black to bring awareness to systemic racism and oppression of Black people in the United States and around the globe. Join us as we take a stand against injustice and racism in all forms.
In addition, our Skagit Valley Family Y team will be joining the global Y network for a town hall on unlearning systemic racism hosted by African American YMCA CEOs. Our team is dedicated to continually exploring the devastating impact of racism in our community. This town hall will be on Wednesday, Feb 24th from 9am-12pm and is open to the public. Register here.
For more educational resources for all ages, visit our Equity Resources page here.
The Y isn’t a place – it’s the people. It’s the staff, members, and those who visit our buildings or take part in our programs.