Celebrating Black History Month

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Black History Month has been an important and integral part of United States history for decades, and since inception, its importance and presence have branched out to other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. Black History Month is especially important and worthwhile to embrace and highlight when it comes to the arts, because Black creativity and culture have shaped current-day art in countless meaningful ways.

While we cannot provide comprehensive information about Black history as a whole, we do want to provide some insight regarding the history of Black History Month and why it’s celebrated, current ongoings related to Black creatives, and general resources for continued education of Black history, both in general and specific to art.

Alvin Ailey, Choreographer
Maya Angelou
James Baldwin

The History of Black History Month

The original precursor to Black History Month was known as Negro History Week and was created in 1926 by author and historian Carter G. Woodson. Emphasis at its core was placed on teaching the history of black Americans in public schools, with the intent of spreading knowledge. By its fourth year, it was recognized in most states where Black individuals lived. The week continued to persist and grow in popularity in the decades that followed, recognized and endorsed by mayors across the United States.

The pivot to Black History Month as we know it currently occurred in 1969, when educators and students at Kent State University proposed the change in celebration. Black History Month was first officially celebrated in 1970, and by 1976 had spread across the country, to the point where then-President Gerald Ford officially recognized it as a month of celebration. In the time since, it has gained more traction, persisting as a time to celebrate Black history and culture.

Serena Williams

Black Creators, Collectives, and More

Social media is ever-present and nonstop in terms of cultural ongoings and has lent to many projects, moments, and memes to be started and led by Black creatives. While this is not a comprehensive list, here are some relevant initiatives from Black artists.


Created by @abellehayford in September 2017 to provide marginalized artists visibility and recognition, #DrawingWhileBlack highlights Black artists of all disciplines.


Created by @tajmerk in December 2020, #ImReallyBlack shines light on Black artists across mediums, often including an accompanying selfie.

#BlackArt and #BlackArtists

Tags commonly used by Black artists to share and promote their work, and the work of other Black artists they know.

Kiana Mai's Black Artist Directory

Created by @kianamaiart (kianamai) in May 2020, this user-generated Twitter thread includes Black artists who have shared their artwork and portfolios. Retweeted nearly 35k times, it has been used as a source for animation showrunners to hire artists.

StarPyrate's LGBTQ+ Black/Mixed Artist Directory

Created by @starpyrate in June 2020, this user-generated Twitter thread includes LGBTQ+ Black and mixed artists sharing their work across all disciplines including music, cosplay, and video.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Toni Morrison
Jimi Hendrix

Grant and Funding Opportunities for Black Creators

The following list includes grant and funding opportunities for Black artists and creators. It will be updated periodically throughout the year. If you know of similar opportunities, please share in the comments.

The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments created the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Initiative, to provide individual support to Black artists, up to $15,000.

Each quarter, indify, a data-driven platform aimed at helping the music industry identify promising artists early, will use its Artist Empowerment Program to provide one Black artist with a $5,000 grant to support their artistic endeavors.

The Arts Administrators of Color founded the Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists and arts administrators impacted by COVID-19 through microgrants.

The ArtsWave Grants for African American Arts was created to support organizations dedicated to the African American experience and arts and cultural activities.

Founded by 10011 Magazine, the Black Artist Fund is a nonprofit organization giving money directly to Black artists to combat systemic inequity in art.

The Black Art Futures Fund (BAFF) provides general operating support for small Black-led arts and culture nonprofits or fiscally sponsored projects. ⁠

The Black Realities Grant is a response to the ongoing state violence and murder of Black people. The Grant awards a monthly cash prize to media projects that explore the varied conditions, experiences, feelings, and range of humanity of the Black global community.

The Communities of Color Arts and Culture Grant Program is intended to aid BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) arts and cultural organizations to restart arts engagement in the community.

The Gabriella Carter Music and Me Scholarship is a scholarship designed to support Black students who “can resonate with the comfort that only music can bring.”

Created by Grind Arts Company, the Make Your Mark BIPOC Arts Scholarship is designed to support BIPOC artists that create and explore concepts at the intersection of dance, theater, and film.

The Minority Student Art Scholarship is a scholarship open to all minority students who are interested in, already enrolled in, or are recent graduates who took courses going toward a degree in the arts.

In partnership with YouTube Music and the Black Music Coalition, Power Up is an ambitious initiative to support Black music creators, while addressing anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector.

Resources to Learn More

The following resources are a starting point for continued education relating to Black History Month, both general and art-related. Delve into the information here and around the internet regarding Black history, and if you have additional resources or interesting references you’d like to share, include them in a comment on the journal!

Civil Rights: Then and Now

This collection of videos, documents, and primary sources gathered by PBS covers events and leaders that defined the Civil Rights Movement’s first three decades (1954-1985), as well as the issues and activists involved today.

Basic Black

Basic Black (originally titled Say Brother) is a public television series that has been on the air since 1968 and aims to reflect the concerns and culture of African Americans through short-form documentaries, performances, and one-on-one conversations.

Portraits of African Americans

Discover the National Portrait Gallery's collection of more than 1,000 portraits of African Americans and learn how their achievements have contributed to the history and development of the United States.

The Undefeated: 44 African Americans Who Shook Up the World

Shaking up the world, "or at least their corner of it" was the selection criteria used to create The Undefeated's "44 African Americans Who Shook Up the World." This resource profiles a diverse blend of influential Black leaders, including musicians, activists, academics, entrepreneurs, and athletes.

Speak Up: Opening a Dialogue with Youth About Racism

Created by the USC Rossier School of Education, Speak Up is a collection of interviews, guides and op-eds aimed at answering questions that can make the topic of racism difficult, and prompt needed discussions about identity, inequality and education for children of color.

BAD Guild’s Obsidian Virtual Concept House

The Black Artists + Designers Guild is thrilled to unveil the Obsidian Experience, combining immersive technology with contemporary design to explore a concept home by Black Creators for the Black Family in California’s Oakland Hills in the year 2025.

“Who I Am,” a Theatre West Production on YouTube

Seven actor-writers share their truth about the significance of Black History Month. Unspooling personal stories as well as life lessons learned from their parents and grandparents, they explore the impact of their heritage in shaping the artists they are today.

San Francisco Poet Laureate Monthly Poem Jam

San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck and special guests open the door to an evening of Afrofuturistic poetry. Poets include Ishmael Reed, Staajabu, Devorah Major, Tureeda Mikell, Avotcja, and Dr. Glenn Parris for a special celebration of African American literature.

Your Thoughts


Answer these questions in a comment on this journal to receive a Black History Month badge for your Profile!

  1. Have you celebrated Black History Month before?

  2. What Black artists have inspired you?

  3. How do you support and nurture Black people around you?

Please note: DeviantArt staff may remove a badge if a deviant's comment or contribution doesn't demonstrate the spirit of Black History Month.

American Lit XII
A Great Man Once Said...
Quincy Jones
Katherine Johnson - International Women's Day 2017
Aretha Franklin
HarrietTubman drawing

Browse the Black History Month Collection

© 2021 team
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1XLN's avatar
  1. Yes, I have celebrated Black History Month in the past

  2. Octavia Butler

  3. I try to spread their art to others, and I try to be there for the artist.

Pumkin-Syrup's avatar
  1. Have you celebrated Black History Month before?

Not as much as I shoulove

  1. What Black artists have inspired you?

There are probably some but I don’t remember their names

  1. How do you support and nurture Black people around you?

not being discriminating

ShiroiKoumori's avatar
  1. No

  2. none

  3. don't discriminate

Eureecka's avatar
  1. Have you celebrated Black History Month before? yes.

  2. What Black artists have inspired you? maya angelou, ella fitzgerald, billie holiday, nichelle nichols

  3. How do you support and nurture Black people around you? i support black-owned businesses, and work to understand my own privilege and how i can use it for good.

Ami0226's avatar

1.No, in fact I was unaware of this event 2.Barack obama 3.We all deserve respect

Josephdiaz495398's avatar
  1. yes

  2. Harriet Tubman

  3. Everyone is special, No One is Left behind!!

ymymy's avatar

1.I don't celebrate holidays at all

3. no difference

PrinceCharmingLoki's avatar
  1. I know about it since a couple of years. I learned about it on tumblr. I took part in it mostly passively but I think it is very important that we have this month :)

2. Michael Jackson.

3. I don't treat them any different than I treat other people. My mother taught me from an early age on, that we are all people and that it is wrong to judge people because of their skin color.

I have two African coworkers who are the sweetest persons you can image. It's interesting to hear stories about how they grew up and how life in Africa was like before they moved away.

typintypos's avatar

1. Have you celebrated Black History Month before?

Sadly no = (

2. What Black artists have inspired you?

Again, sadly I don't know if the artist i follow are black/brown/white or alien coz most dont give details like tht - i follow them mostly for the art

the only black artist i know is my pal, Finalangel72 - she's also the One who introduced me to dA! = D

3.How do you support and nurture Black people around you?

Hmmm... there arent any 'black' ppl where i am - like apart from skin color, the origins arent 'black' if that makes sense? but i have relations and am friends with those who are black/dark both online and irl <3

i dont really care abt skin color tbh - i myself am brown so eh? ppl are ppl treat them like how u want urself to be treated - with respect! = D

Varlora's avatar
  1. No

  2. I don't have one in mind, I look at their arts, not their skin colors ^^

  3. I'm nice with them, and support them if they need help!

NickyDust's avatar
  1. I never celebrate it

  2. Mmm I don't really know ^^ As long as their art is nice, I'll like them :3

  3. Just acting equaly with them!

zirukurt01's avatar
  1. Not at all

  2. None but the likes of non-artist Black people like Nelson Mandela and Obama inspired me to make Political cartoons.

  3. I support them by not letting them become extremists and hostile to other race.

bluebend's avatar
  1. Only in school but that's a tradition that's important to keep alive

  2. Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes for your powerful words, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis for your portrayal of amazing and strong women, James Earl Jones for being the voice of Mufasa and Darth Vader, and many more

  3. Just try to be open minded and supportive

Bel-Star's avatar
  1. No.

  2. There are so many artists that I can't name them all.

  3. Not making differences.

JaybirdTheBird's avatar
  1. No, sorry.

  2. Whitney Houston, Maya Angelou, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Rihanna

  3. I treat them equally, just like anyone else. ^^

TechnoPonyWardrobeDA's avatar

1. Sorry, but no.

2. Maya Angelou

3. The fact that we are all equal, no matter the color of your skin or your race.

DivineDesserts's avatar

Thanks for the badge.

DivineDesserts's avatar
  1. Sorry I haven't

  2. Chadwick Boseman

  3. We're all equal right

sleepywamon's avatar
  1. Unfortunately I don't think Black History Month is celebrated in my country as growing up I am still unfamiliar with the date and history of the month, but I have shared and retweeted post I come across on social media to spread awareness when I do come across them to advocate human rights and celebrate achievements of many great people presently and historically.

  2. Nicki Minaj! I have always loved her creativity, vocals and rapping! She is truly an inspiration and a talented person.

  3. Unfortunately I haven't had too many friends that are black as I tend to stay within my small circle of friends but when I do interact with people regardless of race or gender, I will always make sure they feel accepted, respected and hold myself accountable to treat everyone with kindness.

PaupiTLD's avatar
  1. No, sorry

  2. Barack and Michelle Obama

  3. We all deserve the same right

tulf42's avatar

1. Have you celebrated Black History Month before? I have not celebrated this event before, but I did think about "Black Lives Matter" a few times, last year.

2. What Black artists have inspired you? Taps Mugadza (cover singer), Dominic Martin/Who Chaser (cosplayer and YouTuber), Chadwick Boseman, Will Smith, Noel Clarke, one of my Aunties and step cousins.

3. How do you support and nurture Black people around you? I know very few black people closely, so it's difficult to say but I would tell them how good they are at what they do. I think of the times I could relate to them from past experiences, despite I am white, such as when I have been bullied for my likes and beliefs or when people exploit my weaknesses.

PureEagle's avatar
Soorul's avatar
  1. Yes, I have celebrated Black History Month in the past

  2. Octavia Butler

  3. I try to spread their art to others, and I try to be there for the artist.

anonymous's avatar
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