Celebrating Black History Month
Did you know?
Black History month started as just a week-long holiday!
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
Did you know? The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Honoring African-American Men and Women
You don’t have to look far to notice the many impressive achievements of black men and women in the fields of science, politics, law, sports, entertainment, and many others. Here are some of the most notable names you’re probably hearing celebrated this month!
Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad “Conductor,” Civil Rights Activist
Alice Ball – Chemist Josephine Baker – Singer, Dancer, Civil Rights Activist
Martin Luther King, Jr. – Baptist Minister and Social Activist
Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Activist
Mary Jackson – Scientist, Mathematician, NASA’s First Black Female Engineer
Maya Angelou – Civil Rights Activist, Author, Poet
Joycelyn Elders – First African-American U.S. Surgeon
General Colin Powell – U.S. Secretary of State, Four-Star General (U.S. Army)
Barack Obama – U.S. President, U.S. Senator, Lawyer