It is officially Black History Month. Now is the perfect time to educate yourself and honor all the Black-Americans who have accomplished enormous milestones in history. However, have you ever wondered how did Black History Month start?
The legacy of Black History Month started with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second black Ph.D. from Harvard. Woodson, an educator, believed that young African-Americans weren’t well in touch with their heritage and unaware of the accomplishments their ancestors worked toward. Woodson first turned to his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, for input on how to solve this problem.
The fraternity decided to create a small event for black history, but Woodson desired a wider celebration. He felt that the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), would be the best fit for this task. In February 1926, Woodson sent out a press release announcing the first Negro History Week. February was chosen as the month to celebrate black history because it was the birthday month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men that played a role in African American history.
Dr. Woodson knew that the study of black history would never fit into one single week. As such, in 1940, efforts to expand the week started. By 1950, when Woodson suddenly passed, the expansion began. In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of Black History Week, the week would now turn into a month. Since then, every US President has issued a proclamation honoring Black History Month. Starting with Gerald Ford who said the celebration enabled people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
In 2016, the first black President, Barack Obama issued the last such proclamation of his presidency, honoring Woodson’s initiative to establish one of the nation’s oldest organized celebrations of history. “As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
February is the perfect time to sit back and educate ourselves and others about the achievements that Black-Americans have accomplished. The history of Black History Month was quite long, however, it was indeed worth it. Happy Black History Month!