While African-American History Month wasn’t officially recognized by the United States government until 1976, the celebration has a long history dating back to 1926.
Originally observed for only a week, it was developed as an educational event to inspire African-Americans to learn the history of their culture and educate the rest of the country in overcoming stereotypes.
DR. CARTER G. WOODSON
The man behind African American History Month was born in 1875 in New Canton, Va. Dr. Carter G. Woodson was the fourth of seven children to parents who were former slaves. As a young man, he performed jobs as a sharecropper and a miner to support his family’s income. It wasn’t until he was in his late teens that he attended high school. His commitment to education would allow him to complete his four-year schedule in less than two years. It would also later change the world.
THE EARLY BEGINNINGS
Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. Its purpose was to put African-American historical contributions in the spotlight. The following year, he created the Journal of Negro History.
The scholarly publication quickly caught fire and led Woodson to urge schools and public organizations to partake in programs that promote studies of black history. This campaign began in February of 1926 and was known as Negro History Week.
According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, Woodson chose February to honor the birthdays of important figures Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Woodson would continue educating Americans until his death on April 3, 1950. The movement did not end with his death. It continued to grow and eventually turned into a month-long celebration.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH
Today, the entire month of February is deemed African-American History Month by government officials. It is intended to create awareness of the struggles and obstacles African Americans have overcome in America.
It is a month of reflection, education and a time the entire country can come together to understand our history.