February 1, 2021, 1:00 pm News Staff — Nearly 50 years ago, President Gerald Ford became the first president to officially observe Black History Month. In a message delivered on Feb. 10, 1976, he called on the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
A decade later, Congress passed a law that designated February 1986 as National Black History Month. Among other things, the law stated that the observance would provide “opportunities for our nation’s public schools, institutions of higher learning and the public to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the many contributions of Black Americans to our country and the world.”
In keeping with the sentiments of President Ford and Congress, and as a sign of the Academy’s ongoing commitment to promoting health equity and diversity, the AAFP is also formally recognizing Black History Month. Throughout February, the Academy will highlight the experiences of Black family physicians, medical students and AAFP staff, and their contributions to the Academy, the specialty of family medicine and the practice of healing.
President Barack Obama, in remarks at a reception in February 2016, said that Black History Month “shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history.” Instead, he said, “It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future.” In that vein, throughout the month AAFP will also provide members with links to highly respected resources, both from the Academy and elsewhere, to help raise awareness of issues that are important to the specialty, such as health equity, implicit bias and social determinants of health.
The Academy has always been and will always be an organization that works for and cares about its members. As Black History Month begins, the Academy will continue looking for ways to educate and inform members on these and other important topics, with the hope that by doing so, the AAFP can create a better future for all members and their patients.