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Artwork copyright Marita Dingus. Photo courtesy of Washington State Arts Commission, 2014.

Celebrating Black History Month (February)

February is Black History Month. We celebrate the rich, creative expression of black artists represented in Washington’s State Art Collection. Many of these artists use art to explore personal and community histories, as well as race and social justice. There is also often a strong connection to storytelling.

Black History Month was proposed by black educators and students at Kent State University in Ohio in February 1969 and was first celebrated in 1970. February includes the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14. Black communities had been celebrating both dates for decades.

In 1976, President Ford recognized Black History Month during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He encouraged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history".

This web exhibition features one artwork by each artist – click on the artist's name to explore more by that artist.