The History of Black History Month

The month of February is known for candy and love on an infamous holiday known as Valentine’s Day. However, the month of February is also Black History Month, a celebration that deserves recognition. Black History Month was initially a week beginning in February of 1926, founded by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was the second African American to graduate from Harvard, after completing high school in two years. He then used his education and knowledge to become an expert on African American history. With his knowledge, he then later created a week known as Negro History Week, established to celebrate the history of African Americans. Woodson got the idea of Negro History Week while he was in Washington, D.C. celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ending of slavery. He began to develop the idea of having a celebration of African American History that was longer than a day and wanted people to be more knowledgeable about the history in general. Through these ideas he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).

The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) seeks to promote African American history. For example, Journal of Negro History was published to promote and inform people about African American history. The ASNLH along with Woodson continuously educated people on Black History, Woodson stressed the importance of accurate information being taught about African Americans.

Negro History Week eventually evolved into Black History Month thanks to Woodson. The idea to turn it into a month took off in the 1960’s. Although it wasn’t officially recognized until 1976, people had been celebrating the entire month of February since the 1940’s.  The month aims to promote education of African American History and to recognize famous African Americans who have made a difference. Every year Black History Month has a theme. This year’s theme is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American History.”

Black History Month is important because it celebrates the long history of African Americans in this country. Mary Royster (’17) explained what Black History Month means to her, saying, “To me it means that the entire month is for looking back at the history of black people in America and also present day. To see what black people have done over the years.” The month educates citizens on the events that led to important moments in history, such as the emancipation of slaves in rebellious states in 1863 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Woodson said that, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lost the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Woodson’s idea of Negro History Week, which eventually became Black History month, seems to accomplish what he dreamed it to do: to educate people on who came before them. The month serves as an inspiration and remembrance to make for a better future as we celebrate the past.