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“Because it helps us to remember, there is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.”

Lonnie G. Bunch III, Smithsonian Institution

Origins of Black History Month

Black History Month was founded by the historian Carter G. Woodson, PhD.

Woodson, the son of formerly enslaved people (Anne Eliza Riddle Woodson and James Henry Woodson), worked as a coal miner while pursuing his education, culminating in becoming the second African American to earn a PhD from Harvard. In 1912, Woodson launched the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to create educational curricula and share the achievements of African Americans.

In 1926, Woodson started Negro History Week to share Black history and celebrate both culture and accomplishments. The weeklong celebration expanded to a month in 1976 and continues to be a time to reflect on the contributions Black people have made to the world. It is also a time — as is every month of the year — to focus on the impact of systemic, structural and institutional racism and the continued need for social justice.

National Theme of Black History Month

The 2024 national theme is African Americans and the Arts. The theme honors Black artists who, through their art, preserve history and express empowerment. Whether visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, African American art has had, and continues to have, an enduring impact on the world.

Black History Month at UW Medicine

UW Medicine’s Black History Month Flag Raising will take place on Feb. 1 at noon on all hospital campuses.

Each year during Black History Month, employees share their cultural pride and experiences. Read 2024, 2023 and 2022 Huddle Black History Month employee features.

UW Medicine continues to address policies and practices to focus on equity, social and health justice as we strive to become an anti-racist organization. UW Medicine’s Office of Healthcare Equity offers regular events, talks and training on the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and justice. The office also sponsors affinity groups, including the UW Medicine Black Affinity Group, which is open to all UW Medicine staff who identify as Black.

Digital Assets and Posters

Email signature

Celebrate Black History Month and support colleagues by adding an icon to your email signature. The graphic depicts the colors of the Pan-African flag, a symbol of Black liberation in the United States. Visit the UW Medicine brand site to download the signature. If you need instructions on how to add an email signature, visit the Microsoft Office support page.

Zoom background

Black, green, yellow and red graphic celebrating Black History Month

Visit the UW Medicine brand site to download the background.


Black History Month Poster with green, yellow and red banners

Download a PDF of the poster.


Support for Black community members

While a time for celebration, the deluge of potentially traumatic stories shared in the media during Black History Month can also be triggering and exhausting within the Black community. This is an important time to remember to practice self-care. Below are some resources.