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Black History Month was created by noted historian Carter G. Woodson to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of Black communities. Woodson believed that Black people should be proud of their heritage and that everyone should acknowledge the largely overlooked achievements of Black people in the United States.

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.”

During Black History Month and every day, Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting our Black patients, staff, volunteers, and supporters as we work to improve health equity for all. Planned Parenthood’s focus for Black History Month this year is “Stand with Black Women,” which acknowledges that throughout the U.S., Black women, including Black trans women, have consistently been at the forefront of society — leading social movements, organizing communities, and working to create a better world for all of us. We stand with Black women and celebrate and honor their major contributions to sexual and reproductive health and justice.

As an organization, Planned Parenthood understands that sexual and reproductive health does not exist in a vacuum. As we have learned from Black-led reproductive justice partners, sexual and reproductive health cannot be separated from other social justice issues like access to housing, clean air, and water, a just immigration system, and the ability to raise families in safe environments free from the surveillance of police or the state. While we are continuing to make strides toward race equity, there is still so much more work ahead of us to combat white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and injustice everywhere.

Black History Month creates intentional space to reflect on the amazing contributions Black people have made across industries, professions, cultures, and more – but it also gives us a chance to reflect and recommit ourselves to the work and steps we can take towards equity for Black communities beyond the month of February.