Johnson County recognizes February as Black History Month

Chairman Mike Kelly and Haile Sims hold a Black History Month proclamation

The Board of County Commissioners issued a proclamation on Thursday, Feb. 9, recognizing the month of February as Black History Month in Johnson County.

Haile Sims, Education Co-Chair of the Advocacy and Awareness Group of Johnson County, accepted the proclamation. Members of the Johnson County NAACP and the Olathe NAACP were also in attendance.

With a 2023 theme of “Black Resistance,” Johnson County joins the nation in celebrating Black History Month, which is also known as African American History Month, in February.

African Americans have played central roles in some of the most triumphant and courageous moments in the history of our nation. During the month of February, the county recognizes and honors their achievements.

A brief history of Black History Month

Black History Month

The annual celebration of Black History Month, which showcases achievements by African Americans and their role in U.S. history, grew out of a national “Negro History Week” organized in 1916.

Organizers of the celebration choose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, Douglass of whom was born Feb. 14, 1818.

The first “Negro History Week” celebration occurred seven years after the founding of the NAACP on Feb. 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

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.”

Black history in Johnson County

Black bus drivers standing by a school bus

This February, Johnson County is celebrating Black History Month as a time to honor the contributions and legacy of noted local African Americans.

These important individuals include activists and civil rights pioneers who embodied Black Resistance and empowered positive changes in education, business, sports and politics in Johnson County history.

During Black History Month, we encourage you to explore our local black history. The following articles profile black historical figures who played a key role in our community:

Board of County Commissioners
County Manager's Office