The History of Black History Month

Mwatabu S. Okantah shares how Kent State's diverse global community led to creation of historic month

“It starts with a historian by the name of Carter G. Woodson.”

Mwatabu S. Okantah, professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Kent State University, recently shared the history and importance of Black History Month on WKYC Studios’ Good Company.

Okantah provides a deep dive into the origin of Black History Month and its relationship to Kent State.

Okantah highlighted the role Black United Students played at Kent State and told the story of how it all started in 1970.  

Starting as National Negro History Week, Black History Month was established through Black United Students. The student organization worked with the founder of the Department of Africana Studies and its dean to propose the expansion.  

“They went to them saying there is too much history to only focus on it for a week. A week is not enough,” Okantah told Good Company. “And [the department founder and dean] agreed. And so, because Negro History Week was in February, they just extended it.”

Okantah said he hopes to see an accurate representation of Black history in the future. 

Learn more about the Department of Africana Studies

POSTED: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 10:46 AM
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2024 11:50 AM
Macy Rosen, Flash Communications