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Black History Month - African, Africana, and African American Music

Music Musing #88
by Dean McIntyre

Black History Month is an annual observance in the month of February devoted to the study and celebration of the contributions of black people throughout history. It was started in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who in 1915 established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History), and in 1916 founded the Journal of Negro History. In 1926 he designated Negro History Week as the second week of February in order to focus attention on the contributions of black people throughout American history. He chose that week because it was also the week for the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. (Read more on Black History Month at www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmintro1.html )

In the decades since 1926, Negro History Week has become Black History Month, and it has been expanded to embrace the celebration of not just African Americans, but all black people of the African Diaspora. Today, we use the term Africana to designate people of African descent who came or were brought out of Africa to settle elsewhere. In the USA, we think of the people of Africana as including those in Central and South America and the Caribbean region, many of whom have come to live in the USA and added their rich history and traditions to those of African Americans in this country.

There is much music of Africa, Africana, and African Americans in The United Methodist Hymnal and The Faith We Sing. The following lists are provided to help worship planners include this music during Black History Month and throughout the year.

"Index of Music and Prayers of Africa, Africana, and African Americans in The United Methodist Hymnal (1989)"

  • African and Africana: 8 titles
  • African American Spirituals: 30 titles
  • African American Songs and Hymns: 26 titles

"Index of Music and Prayers of Africa, Africana, and African Americans in The Faith We Sing (2000)"

  • African and Africana: 13 titles
  • African American Spirituals: 12 titles
  • African American Songs and Hymns: 7 titles

Categories: Music Musings, Worship, Worship Planning, Lectionary Calendar, Civil Observances, Black History Month, Black History Month