[Wednesday, 1 February 2023] location: worldwide
The Black History Month
Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, begins on February 1st and continues throughout the month, celebrating African American people’s achievements and their involvement in American history.
Initially known as Negro History Week, Black History Month was founded by Carter G. Woodson, an African American Studies student and historian. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, a minister, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915, 50 years after the abolition of slavery, with the goal of researching black Americans’ and Africans’ achievements and contributions and promoting them within American society, as they discovered that African American history was being overlooked by academia and not being taught properly in schools.
Why is Black History Month in February?
With this goal in mind, Woodson and Moorland established Negro History Week, which held its inaugural commemoration in the second week of February in 1926.
They picked February because it is the birthday month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two pivotal heroes in the battle for African American emancipation and civil rights.
This week was celebrated with local festivities in black communities, the formation of history clubs to explore black Americans’ heritage, and talks given in schools by renowned African American individuals.
The Civil Rights movement and the evolution of Black History Month
Black Americans struggled for their equality under American law throughout the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the fact that slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century, African Americans were still severely disenfranchised and faced damaging racism, particularly in the American South, where Jim Crow segregationist laws were in existence. Thus started a two-decade-long campaign for equality that was unparalleled.
Negro History Week became African History Month at this time, as a celebration of black identity.
Initially only acknowledged as a month of celebrations in a few localities by a few mayors, President Gerald Ford made Black History Month a nationwide commemoration in 1976.
Black History Month celebrations
With its primary goal of educating people about African American achievements, it’s no surprise that Black History Month is largely observed in schools.
Students study works by African American authors such as Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, and the poem “I, too, sing America” by Langston Hughes is frequently taught. The vital heritage of black Americans is also mentioned, such as the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, a key landmark and victory in African American history that made school segregation unlawful.
Teachers and students have also made it a habit to adorn their classroom doors with photographs and statements honouring renowned and important African American leaders in history.