The Significance Of Black History Month

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February is Black History Month (Credit: usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mi)

Celebrated every February, Black History Month is an annual commemoration to honor and recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S. history and reflect on their continued struggle for racial justice. While President Gerald Ford is credited for officially recognizing what is also called African American History Month in 1976, the idea was the brainchild of American historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

The chain of events to this all-important celebration began in 1915, with the establishment of the Study of Negro Life and History — now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Founded by Woodson and Jesse Moorland, a prominent minister and philanthropist, its mission was to educate the nation about the history, sacrifices, and achievements of African Americans and people of African heritage.

In 1926, in a bid to share his passion for black history with students, Woodson initiated "Negro History Week" to help school systems coordinate their focus on the topic. He selected the second week of February to encompass the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln (February 12), who abolished slavery, and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass (Feb 14), who escaped from slavery.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson started "Negro History Week" to ensure school children would learn about black history(Credit: Charles Henry Alston/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/ Public Domain/Commons.wikimedia.org)

The event was wildly successful and educators countrywide soon began clamoring for suitable instruction materials for their students. Woodson and the ASALH responded by establishing an annual theme — to focus the public's attention on important developments that deserved emphasis — and providing teachers with appropriate lesson plans and classroom posters. By the time Woodson died in 1950, Negro History Week had become an annual event in many cities and towns across the country.

By the 1960s, African Americans on college campuses became increasingly aware of their African lineage, and Negro History Week began to be rapidly replaced with Black History Week. In 1976, the bicentennial anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the ASALH used its influence to officially change the name and make it a month-long celebration.

Many institutions and libraries host special events during Black History Month (Credit: Santa Monica.gov)

Today, Black History Month is one of the most celebrated cultural heritage months on the American calendar. Schools mark the occasion by highlighting the achievements and contributions of prominent African Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as those who were less prominent but equally important. Among the extensive list are Madam C.J. Walker, the first black self-made millionaire, Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American US Senator, and George Washington Carver, the man who brainstormed 300 different products made from peanuts.

The ASALH and other institutions, such as the National Museum of African American History in Washington DC, as well as libraries, also offer a host of educational programs, many centered around an annual theme. 2021's theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity," celebrates the diversity of black families, which include single to two-parent households to extended to bi-racial.

Resources: History.com, asalh.org, USAtoday.com, Oprahmag.com

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79 Comments
  • 27bwindle
    27bwindleWednesday, February 24, 2021 at 10:36 am
    Black history month
    • ladodgers22
      ladodgers22Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 10:23 am
      Did you know that every person on the planet has african ancestry even if your not black cuz life originated in africa? #BLM
      • rosaflower
        rosaflowerTuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:58 pm
        Happy black history month!
        • frogsoup
          frogsoupTuesday, February 23, 2021 at 12:20 pm
          BLACK LIVES MATTER i cant believe so many people judge people just for their skin color and where they come from they are just like you and me
          • perc
            percMonday, February 22, 2021 at 6:08 pm
            cool. but black history month is almost over!
            • eva_diva
              eva_divaMonday, February 22, 2021 at 12:16 pm
              it is so unfair how people can just be like that sometimes and sometimes i wish i could tell the whole world how i feel D:
              • rainbowbite
                rainbowbiteSunday, February 21, 2021 at 5:33 pm
                Black lives matter!!! Why do people act so mean about skin color, anyway?! Its like if someone came up and started saying mean things about me because I have a certain eye color! It's terrible. Society has always been harsh about how people look on the outside, especially towards women, about body types, skin color, ect., like we are supposed to dress up like fashion models everyday!
                • sowujepysare
                  sowujepysareThursday, February 25, 2021 at 7:51 am
                  people is like that today
                  • mercury_dust
                    mercury_dustMonday, February 22, 2021 at 9:40 am
                    This is so true, l mean, seriously. It shouldn't matter how you look, it's actions that count anyway.
                  • animereina2020
                    animereina2020Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 3:45 pm
                    The people that make an enormous change to the world that brings peace are usually the ones who are brave enough not to care what others think. When the Civil Rights movement started, some people agreed about segregation being the right thing to do. But that didn't stop people like Martin Luther king and protesters to try and make the world it is today. Let's appreciate everything they have done to make the world a better place. Sometimes you have to have no conformity to do something right. We have to realize that the things we do today impact our future, and we can be in history books by taking action to stop the bad things going on today.
                    • unicorn87
                      unicorn87Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 11:34 am
                      HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH!!!!!
                      • sravy
                        sravySaturday, February 20, 2021 at 11:23 am
                        I ❤ the last video. Give me a thumbs up if you do too!
                        • rosaflower
                          rosaflowerTuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:56 pm
                          Yeah it was the best!