Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is an annual day of celebration to honor and spotlight the many outstanding achievements black people have made in and for our country. Since 1976, every president in U.S. history has declared February as Black History Month. This article will explore the origins of Black History Month, key facts to know, and the importance of representation.
It may come as a surprise to many that the origins of Black History Month didn’t begin until 1915, half a century after the 13th Amendment passed to end slavery in the U.S. It all started with Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland – a Harvard-trained historian and well-known minister – who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization they created to research and highlight achievements by Black Americans. Today this organization is known as The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
In 1926, the association dedicated a week to honor and celebrate Negro History Week in accordance with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This very first Negro History Week ended up inspiring other communities, including schools, to gather and coordinate local celebrations, performances, and lectures. In the decades that followed, many mayors across the country began to honor “Negro History Week.”
Largely thanks to the civil rights movement and more and more people waking up to the importance of honoring black identity, this week evolved into Black History Month throughout the country and on many student campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in the U.S. He emphasized that people needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Facts to Know about Black History Month:
The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was ratified in 1865, following the civil war. The first attempt at legitimately honoring Black Americans wasn’t until 1915.
Two influential black men worked diligently to start The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting contributions made by Black Americans.
In 1926, the first Negro History Week occurred.
In 1976, Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month and called on the American people to seize the opportunity to honor the accomplishments made by Black Americans.
This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Resistance.
This month of February marks Black History Month and is a time to pay homage to the many contributions of African Americans across history. From activists and civil rights heroes like Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks to historical figures like Frederick Douglass, there is no question of the massive impact black people have had on our country.
This year’s Black History Month theme is “Black Resistance,” which encourages us all to reflect, explore, and honor how African Americans have resisted oppression since the beginning of our country up until today. We have much work to do as a society, but it’s paramount that we take time to celebrate the strides Black Americans have made and continue to make to move the needle forward for America and the world at large.