Celebrate Black History Month with Western Union’s Black Advisory Council

People By Laetitia Kubanza-Meyer February 3, 2022

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson (the renowned “Father of Black History”) created the Negro History Week, a precursor to the modern Black History Month that launched later in 1976. Dr. Woodson’s idea was simple; Blacks should own their culture and history with pride and others should learn about it and understand it.

Each year Black History month has a theme and this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness.

To kick off the celebration, here are a few historical facts to celebrate Black history makers who have paved the way in Health and Wellness and highlights for Black History celebrations and activities across the nation.

Did you know…

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was the first African American Cardiologist who performed the first successful open-heart surgery. He also went on to found the first interracial hospital and was a co-founder of the National Medical Association.

In 1981, Alexa Irene Canady, MD became the first black neurosurgeon in the United States, and just a few years later, she rose to the ranks of chief of neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Have you ever seen a medical illustration featuring a Black body? Chidiebere Ibe is a Nigerian medical student, who is attending the Kyiv Medical University in Ukraine. He quickly became interested in medical illustrations and came to a realization: “The drawings I saw aren’t in Black skin.” This launched him into studying medical illustration and focusing on Black skin. His illustrations went viral and landed him an offer to pursue a Ph.D. at a New York University after medical school.

Ijeoma Nnodim Opara, M.D., FAAP; Latonya Riddle-Jones, M.D., M.P.H.; and Nakia Allen, M.D., FAAP. The trio of School of Medicine physicians called upon the medical and scientific communities to confront and end a legacy of scientific racism in research, medical education, clinical practice, and health policies by “de-pathologizing and humanizing” American Black bodies. In “Modern Day Drapetomania: Calling Out Scientific Racism,” published in the Journal of General Medicine.

Black History Month Celebrations and Events in North America

 Black History Month celebrations in the Midwest Region:

Celebrate Black History Month 2022 in the Denver Metro Area:

  • Passages: Bound and Free exhibit This exhibition portrays artist Verline “Mijiza” Geaither’s personal interpretation of the experiences of many Black men, women, and children who live and have lived in the United States of America. Thru Feb. 25, 2022, at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library.
  • The Culture Museum invites you to a new immersive pop-up art museum and selfie exhibition celebrating Black girl magic! Thru Feb. 27, 2022; Fri.–Sun., at the Culture Museum 1439 26th St.
  • Organic Tarot: Works by Tya Alisa Anthony From Jan. 15–April 3, 2022, at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Interdisciplinary artist and curator Tya Alisa Anthony combines archival photos with botanical imagery to illuminate and reframe the personal stories of Depression-era Black sharecroppers and reimagine them as icons of divine and mystical power.
  • Colorado Matters invites you to read and then meet the author of All That Is Secret Turn The Page With Colorado Matters: on February 8th Virtual/Online.
  • Join Senior Librarian Jameka Lewis in a presentation about Demystifying the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter Organizations on Feb. 19, 2022, at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library.
  • In the Upper Room: Loyalty, spirituality, and colorism are all at play in this dramatic dark comedy based on the real family history of playwright and novelist Beaufield Berry. From Feb. 11–March 13, 2022, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA).
  • Purnell Steen & the Five Points Ambassadors’ (also known as LeJazz Machine) annual show in celebration of Black History Month, on Feb. 24, 2022, at Dazzle.
  • Boulder Ballet Presents Black Voices of Dance: An evening of dance highlighting the nation’s most vibrant Black voices in the field. From Feb. 24–27, 2022 at the Boulder Ballet 2590 Walnut St., Boulder.
  • Buffalo Soldiers: The Forgotten Black Army in the West, on Feb. 26, 2022, at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library. Learn more about the largely unknown history of African American army regiments, nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers. The presentation will include a special dedication to Cathay Williams, the only woman to serve in the US Army as a Buffalo Soldier. Ideal for all ages.
  • Head to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to celebrate Black Science Day! On Feb. 27, 2022 (Free Day).

Books and movies recommendations to help celebrate Black History Month


Skin, Boyz N The Hood, Fruitvale Station, Uncorked, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Dear White People, The Sun is also a Star, Shaka Zulu, Malcolm X, Glory, Birth of a Nation, Harriet, 4 Little Girls, Something the Lord Made, Black Panther, Queen of Katwe, Just Mercy, Ray, Antwone Fisher, Photograph, Malcolm & Marie, If Beale Street Could Talk, Hidden Figures, The Princess & The Frog, Inside Man, Fences, The Color Purple, The Pursuit of Happiness, Coming to America, Bad Boys for Life, Passing, The Harder They Fall, King Richard, Respect, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, etc.



Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo; The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate; How to be an Antiracist- Ibram X. Kendi, We Want to Do More Than Survive by Bettina Love; Becoming by Michelle Obama.


Bunheads by Misty Copeland (2020); You should meet Misty Copeland, by Laurie Calkhoven (2016); Ballet Stars, by Joan Holub (2012); The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson (2018); Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, based on the book by Lewis Carroll (2019); Dancing in the Wings, by Debbie Allen (2020); Don’t Touch My Hair, by Sharee Miller (2018); Little Legends- Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison (2019); (French) Maman a besoin de moi, by Mildred Pittswalter & Claude and Denise; Mes premieres chansons africaines (2019), illustrated by Sophie Rohrbach.