Johnson County celebrates Black History Month in Feb. 2024
With a 2024 theme of “African Americans and the Arts,” Johnson County joins the nation in celebrating Black History Month – also known as African American History Month – in February.
The annual celebration, which showcases achievements by African Americans and recognizes their role in U.S. history, grew out of a national “Negro History Week” organized in 1916. Organizers choose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who was born Feb. 14, 1818.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Learn more about how the county is recognizing Black History Month and explore local Black history below.
Celebrating Black History Month in Johnson County
Start off Black History Month by checking out the Johnson County Library’s reading list for Black History Month in Kansas, featuring a variety of books with local history.
You can also explore local Black history at the Johnson County Museum, open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The exhibit REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs and Segregation being converted to a digital exhibit. A book version of the exhibit is also available in the museum store and at libraries across the area.
Following the theme of “African Americans and the Art,” Johnson County Mental Health Center highlighted Black artists who have challenged the stigma surrounding mental health in its Mental Health Moments e-newsletter. This includes Black actors, musicians, photographers and more who have used their art to spark conversation about mental health.
Supporting a Black-owned business is another great way to take part in Black History Month. Visit Kansas City has a list of Black-owned businesses in the Kansas City metro, and you can also find information about Black businesses through the Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City.
Exploring local Black history
During Black History Month, Johnson County is recognizing the contributions and legacy of noted African Americans in our community. They include activists and civil rights pioneers who empowered positive changes in education, business, sports and politics in Johnson County history.
This February, we encourage you to explore our local Black history. These articles profile Black historical figures who played a key role in our community:
- The McCallops' community legacy
- When George Washington Carver came to Olathe
- Corinthian Nutter and the integration of Johnson County schools
- Luella Johnson and the struggle for equality
The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is sharing stories throughout the month with African-American community leaders in Johnson County who are paving the way for a healthier future for all.