Each year during the month of February Americans across the United States recognize and celebrate the strides and achievements black people have accomplished over the centuries. It is also a time to join inpaying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
Black History month can trace its beginnings to the work of Carter G. Woodson. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian believed that truth could not be denied, and that reason would prevail over prejudice. Founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) Woodson hoped to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization. The association soon announced Negro History Week, an event that was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Negro History Week was widely accepted, and the response was overwhelming. Soon, Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had grown to occupy a central part of African American life while bringing more awareness to the contributions of African Americans in our history and culture.
In 1976 Negro History Week grew to encompass the month of February and became better known as Black History Month which we are familiar with today. It had been 50 years since the first celebration and now the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history and the part it played in the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association that Woodson founded, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.