Today marks the first day of Black History Month—but that is not the only celebration of black people in February.
The Movement for Black Lives, a table of black organizations who comprise the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, created Black Futures Month. The 29 days of artistic expression are meant to envision both the futures of all black people’s lives and collective liberation.
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) February 1, 2016
BLM will be using the hashtag #BlackFutureMonth in their social media campaign as a form of outreach. However, the official project is called Black Futures Month, with “futures” being plural, as there is not just one future they are imagining for the lives of black people.
Organizers are clear that Black Futures Month is not meant to be a replacement of Black History Month, which celebrates the struggles, triumphs, and achievements of black people in the U.S. Black History Month was created in 1926 (originally as Negro History Week) by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a writer and historian who was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, according to History.com. Black History Month has been officially recognized by U.S. presidents since in 1976.
However, Black Futures Month, which is in its second year, will have a slightly different focus. It will be a time for black people to imagine life in the future, in addition to fighting for an end to deaths from police brutality, explained Tanya Lucia Bernard, 32, arts and culture director at Black Lives Matter.
Black Futures Month will consist of engaging black artists and writers in using their creative expression to visualize and discuss issues that impact black communities. Bernard is responsible for organizing the artists, along with Darnell L. Moore, senior correspondent at Mic, who is working the writers.
“It’s a visual representation of our lived experiences,” Bernard told the Daily Dot. “And it’s directly connected to our fight to end state-sanctioned violence against black people.”
She continued, “It isn’t expected that black people are going to live very long, if you will, and that’s a really depressing place to move from. So there’s been a sanitization and a pacification of our experiences, and we’re aiming to subvert that through Black Futures Month.”
Each day of Black Futures Month, BLM will display one piece of visual art that expands across issues on the main BLM website or the Tumblr. Issues to be included are reproductive justice, transgender justice, and environmental racism (for example, Flint, Michigan’s water crisis).
Artists play unique roles in the BLM movement, said Bernard, as art can show people—as opposed to telling them—what the futures of black people could look like.