Black History Month banner, Eliza Ann Gardner

When you’re out and about in town this month ‒ Arlington Center, the Heights or East Arlington ‒ be on the lookout for colorful banners displayed along Mass. Ave. as the town observes Black History Month.

“The banners and installation are the same as [in] the past three years,” said Select Board Chair Eric Helmuth during the board's Jan. 22 meeting, at which the board unanimously approved their display.

The varied banners, with different words and illustrations, look like this >> (Clicking this link will start an automatic download to one's device.)

According to, "Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.

"Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month."

A more detailed account can be found on the website of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or ASALH. It describes how the origins of the observance go back to the summer of 1915, and to Woodson, who held a doctorate from Harvard University and who convened a three-week event in Chicago -- as he had earned his master's degree at the University of Chicago and was familiar with that community -- that attracted more than 6,000 people. The event was intended to commemorate the fact that it had been more than half a century since the Emancipation Proclamation. The event's success was part of what led to the formation of what would become the organization ASALH and also the antecedents of Black History Month.

Watch ACMi video of Jan. 22, 2024, meeting:

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This news brief by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.