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Black History Month Through the Years: Every Black History Month Theme Since 1928

February is Black History Month, and there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate. From books you can read to your kids during the month (and beyond), Black documentaries you can watch, Black Americans to learn more about and so much more, it's a great time of year to focus on the contributions and accomplishments of Black Americans.

Additionally, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has actually made each February extra significant during Black History Month by choosing a different theme for every single year. So, starting with 1928, we have all the Black History Month themes to look back on.

According to the ASALH, "Over the years, the themes reflect changes in how people of African descent in the United States have viewed themselves, the influence of social movements on racial ideologies, and the aspirations of the black community."

Enjoy looking through the themes from the past 96 years—including the latest theme for 2024!

Related: What Are the Black History Month Colors and What Do They Mean?

Black History Month Theme for 2024

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This year's Black History Month has the theme "African Americans and the Arts."

The ASALH shares, "African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world. In 2024, we examine the varied history and life of African American arts and artisans."

Expanding on the theme of African Americans and the Arts, ASALH details the intricate timeline of Black Americans and their contribution to music, art, dance and so much more. They note periods of Black creativity with the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, and name major African American artists such as Alvin Ailey (dancer), DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock (musicians), Octavia Butler (author) and so many more creatives.

How can we focus on this theme in February 2024? ASALH shares that this theme "puts into the national spotlight the richness of the past and present with an eye towards what the rest of the twenty-first century will bring."

Related: The Significance of Black History Month and Why It Is Celebrated in February

Black History Month Themes Through the Years

1928 Civilization: A World Achievement

1929 Possibility of Putting Negro History in the Curriculum

1930 Significant Achievements of the Negro

1931 Neglected Aspects of Negro History

1932 What George Washington Bicentennial Commission Fail to Do

1933 Ethiopia Meets Error in Truth

1934 Contribution of the Negro in Poetry, in Painting, in Sculpture and in Science

1935 The Negro Achievements in Africa

1936 African Background Outlined

1937 American Negro History from the Time of Importation from Africa up to the Present Day

1938 Special Achievements of the Race: Oratory, Drama, Music, Painting, Sculpture, Science and Inventions

1939 Special Achievements of the Race: Religion, Education, Business, Architecture, Engineering, Innovation, Pioneering

1940 Negro Labor

1941 The Career of Frederick Douglass

1942 The Negro in Democracy

1943 The Negro in the Modern World

1944 The Negro and the New Order

1945 The Negro and Reconversion

1946 Let Us Have Peace

1947 Democracy Possible only Through Brotherhood

1948 The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

1949 The Use of Spirituals in the Classroom

1950- Outstanding Moments in Negro History

1951 Eminent Negroes in World Affairs

1952 Great Negro Educators (Teachers)

1953 Negro History and Human Relations

1954 Negro History: A Foundation for Integration

1955 Negro History: A Contribution to America’s Intercultural Life

1956 Negro History in an Era of Changing Human Relations

1957 Negro History

1958 Negro History: A Factor in Nationalism and Internationalism

1959 Negro History: A Foundation for a Proud America

1960 Strengthening America Through Education in Negro History and African Culture

1961 Freedom and Democracy for the Negro after 100 years (1861-1961)

1962 Negro History and a New Birth of Freedom

1963 Negro History Evaluates Emancipation (1863-1963)

1964 Negro History: A Basis for the New Freedom

1965 Negro History: Freedom’s Foundation

1966 Freedom from Racial Myths and Stereotypes Through Negro History

1967 Negro History in the Home, School, and the Community

1968 The Centennial of the Fourteenth Amendment Afro American History Week

1969 Changing the Afro American Image through History

1970 15th Amendment and Black America in the Century (1870-1970)

1971 African Civilization and Culture: A Worthy Historical Background

1972 African Art, Music, Literature; a Valuable Cultural Experience

1973 Biography Illuminates the Black Experience

Related: How to Talk to Your Kids About Black History Month—and 25 Ways to Honor It

1974 Helping America Understand

1975 Fulfilling America’s Promise: Black History Month

1976 America for All Americans

1977 Heritage Days: The Black Perspective; the Third Century

1978 Roots, Achievements and Projections

1979 History: Torch for the future

1980 Heritage for America

1981 Black History: Role Model for Youth

1982 Afro American Survival

1983 Afro Americans in the United States

1984 Afro Americans and Education

1985 Afro American Family

1986 Afro American Experience: International Connection

1987 Afro Americans and the Constitution from Colonial Times to the Present

1988 Constitutional Status of Afro Americans in the 21st Century

1989 Afro Americans and Religion

1990 Seventy-Five Years of Scholarly Excellence: A Homage to Our Forebearers

1991 Educating America: Black Universities and Colleges, Strengths and Crisis

1992 African Roots Experience New Worlds, Pre-Columbus to Space Exploration

1993 Afro-American Scholars: Leaders, Activists and Writers

1994 Empowering Black Americans

1995 Reflections on 1895: Douglass, Du Bois & Washington

1996 Black Women

1997 African Americans and Civil Rights; a Reprisal

1998 Black Business

1999 Legacy of African American Leadership for the Present and the Future

2000 Heritage and Horizons: The African American Legacy and the Challenges for the 21st Century

2001 Creating and Defining the African American Community: Family, Church Politics and Culture

2002 The Color Line Revisited: Is Racism Dead?

2003 The Souls of Black Folks: Centennial Reflections

2004 Before Brown, Beyond Boundaries: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

2005 The Niagara Movement: Black Protest Reborn, 1905-2005

2006 Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social, and Civil Institutions

2007 From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas

2008 Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism

2009 The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas

2010 The History of Black Economic Empowerment

2011 African Americans and the Civil War

2012 Black Women in American Culture and History

2012 President Barack Obama National Black History Month Proclamation

2013 At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington

2014 Civil Rights in America

2015 A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture

2016 Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories

2017 – The Crisis in Black Education

2018 – African Americans in Times of War

2019 – Black Migrations

2020 – African Americans and the Vote

2021 – The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

2022 – Black Health and Wellness

2023 – Black Resistance

2024 — African Americans and the Arts

Next up: 120 Inspiring Quotes for Black History Month: ‘Freedom Is Never Given’