The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in 2016, offering a look back at the contributions of a demographic that helped build and shape America. That influence and the achievements of Black people from generations past across the nation are celebrated every February, which was congressionally designated as Black History Month in 1986.

“Throughout our history, Black Americans have never given up on the promise of America,” President Joe Biden said during a recent proclamation ceremony. “Unbowed by the forces of hate and undaunted as they fought for centuries against slavery, segregation and injustice, Black Americans have held a mirror up to our nation, allowing our country to confront hard truths about who we are and pushing us to live up to our founding ideals. They have helped redeem the soul of our nation, ensuring the promises in our founding documents were not just words on a page but a lived reality for all people. In the process, the vibrancy of Black history and culture has enriched every aspect of American life.”

Take a look at these photos that capture the spirit of Black History Month.

A marching band
A marching band, with its dance troupe front and center, prepares to take the field at Howard University. Yacouba Tanou; Washington, D.C.; 2009
The barbershop
The barbershop is known as a space where Black men can freely discuss important issues, while communing with each other unincumbered. Jared Johnson, Virginia, 2016

LaTanthony and Theodore Strong
LaTanthony and Theodore Strong embrace one another for a portrait in their bedroom. Rory Doyle, Mississippi, 2022
a child holds a sign
During a 2020 event commemorating the anniversary of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march on Edmund Pettus Bridge, a child holds a sign encouraging others to vote. Michael Milner, Alabama, 2020
The Lorraine Motel
The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum complex. Michael Oberman, Tennessee, 2015

two young girls
With the likeness of the first Black president, Barack Obama, on their computer screen, two young girls work on a project celebrating Black History Month.  David Moss; Washington, D.C.; 2013
Musicians, celebrating
Musicians, celebrating the life of trumpeter Terry Gibson Jr., march down the streets of New Orleans with their brass instruments blaring. Karen Lozinski, Louisiana, 2021
MLK Memorial
A young boy stands in front of the memorial to the legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall. Patricia Wormsley-Diggs; Washington, D.C.; 2019

Young cowboys
Young cowboys show off some acrobatic tricks while on horseback. Rory Doyle, Mississippi, 2017
A dove is released in New Orleans
A dove is released in New Orleans’ Congo Square to commemorate the millions of Africans who suffered the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The annual event normally takes place during the July 4 weekend. Vincent Simmons, Louisiana, 2019

Black Lives Matter march
Young Jade Battle holds up a sign while Terrance Martin offers a message during a Black Lives Matter march in Winchester. Zachary Birdsong, Tennessee, 2020
Newborn Jestin
Newborn Jestin, welcomed by his father, Jessie, has his own little cowboy hat waiting for him after his nap Rory Doyle, Mississippi, 2018
Black Lives Matter protest - high vantage point
Wearing a face mask, just months after Covid-19 lockdowns began, a woman participates in a Black Lives Matter protest from a high vantage point. Nicole Caracia; Washington, D.C.; 2020
Texas State Capitol
A racially diverse group marches toward the Texas State Capitol during a Black Lives Matter protest. Eric Skadson, Texas, 2020

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