Celebrating Black History Month Through Visual Images and Footage

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In honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on these Black and African American individuals through stunning stock images.

February marks Black History Month, a month of tribute to the accomplishments, contributions, and moments of the African American community. To celebrate, Shutterstock is bringing visuals that celebrate this community to the forefront through visual collections and captivating imagery that highlights and amplifies Black icons, activists, creators, and artists. From curated collections to iconic video clips, explore the Black History Month creative hub.

The History of Black History Month

The celebration of Black history dates back to 1926 when Harvard-educated African American historian Carter G. Woodson proposed setting a time to honor the accomplishments of African Americans, bringing awareness to Black history in America. This led to the birth of Negro History Week in the same year, expanding to Black History Week in the 1970s, and finally becoming Black History Month in 1976. 

Carter G. WoodsonCarter G. Woodson on an American stamp. Editorial image by spatuletail.

While celebrating Black History Month may have started in the United States, it quickly became an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Black people globally. The United Kingdom first celebrated Black History Month in October 1987. And, in Canada, the House of Commons officially recognized it as February in 1995.

Celebrating the Achievements of Black Individuals and Communities

Black History Month is an opportunity to discover, learn, and honor the significant contributions, history, struggles, and successes of Black individuals and communities. It celebrates the remarkable achievements Black men, women, and gender-nonconforming individuals have made in the arts, science, sports, law, and other fields of significance. 

Celebrating AchievementsBlack History Month is about celebrating the achievements of Black individuals and African Americans globally. Image by I_Am_Zews.

Iconic Figures of Black History Month

This month of remembrance often celebrates prominent figures in the Black and African American communities. Such figures include Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Muhammad Ali. However, it’s equally important to celebrate the countless other African Americans who are making a profound mark in history today. From poet Amanda Gorman’s inaugural address to recently passed actor Chadwick Boseman’s exceptional mark in performance arts, Black History Month is a celebration of historical achievements in both the past and the here and now. 

Discover some of the brilliant performances of Black and African American actors and actresses we’re eager to re-watch.

Self-Portrait of Artist Horace PippinSelf-Portrait II, by artist Horace Pippin in 1944. The self-taught artist whose most famous work addresses the U.S. history of slavery and segregation. Image by Everett Collection. View the full Black History Month collection.

February offers us the opportunity to learn the history of Black identity and the contributions of Black people and communities in today’s world and culture. The month offers up the opportunity for people to listen, read, and learn more about Black history. One area of focus for individuals this month is to discover anti-racism resources to become better allies to the Black and African American communities.

Celebrating Black History Through Visual Imagery

In celebration of Black History Month, Shutterstock has put together the Black History Month hub to make it easy to find visuals to celebrate African American and Black communities globally. Discover free images to support your projects as well as a selection of curated collections, including Portraits of Diversity, Black History Month, and Black is Beautiful stock footage. 

Portraits of Diversity Collection.Portraits of Diversity Collection.

Top image by Mbuso Sydwell Nkosi.

Discover even more stories here:

How to Properly Document Black Political Leadership in PhotographyWhy We Need to Talk About Black Representation in Photography Editorial Photographers on Documenting the Black Lives Matter Protests18 Brilliant Movie Performances to (re) Watch for Black History MonthFuture History Makers: A Black History Month Showcase

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