The Balancing Acts Uncovers the Origins of Black History Month
February 6, 2024
Every February, the United States honors Black culture and how this beautiful community has shaped our nation.
Black History Month is an annual celebration of all the achievements of the Black community. Other countries including Canada and the United Kingdom also have months dedicated to celebrating Black history. But have you ever thought of the origin of this month?
Founder of African American History
The origin of Black History Month began in 1915, about 50 years after the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the United States. In September of 1915, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson is known as the “father of Black History.”
The organization was devoted to studying African American culture, history, and achievements made by the Black community. Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) is known as the Study of African American Life and History today. Woodson envisioned a weeklong celebration. He encouraged schools to participate in teaching African American history and designated the second week of February as Negro History Week. He gathered other historians to participate in this week through the ASNLH.
When Did Black History Month Start?
The celebration was eventually accepted by the late 1960s, Negro History Week had evolved into what is known today as Black History Month. Protests for racial injustice and inequality in the United States played pivotal roles in the change.
Around 50 years in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially dedicated the month of February as Black History Month. President Ford said for all Americans to “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Why Did They Choose February?
February was chosen for Black History Month because the second week celebrates the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in freeing the slaves. Most notably for his speech on the Emancipation Proclamation and approval of the 13th Amendment. Douglass was a former slave and leader in the movement to abolish slavery.
Black History Month is when we celebrate all the accomplishments of the Black community. It is a time when our country can celebrate this community’s rich culture, triumphs, and adversities.
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