The history of Black History Month

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life (ASALH). 11 years later, they moved to recognize the second week of February as “Negro History Week” because of the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12); two figures that were known for their help towards the black community. 

What started as a one-week-long celebration, turned into a month-long celebration 50 years later with President Gerald Ford who was the first president to officially recognize Black History Month in 1976. 

Since then, every U.S. president has recognized February as Black History Month as well as endorsing a specific theme along with it. The 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” according to History. This theme was chosen because black families have become the topic of many studies throughout the years and the representation of them has been stereotyped since the beginning. 

Whether it be in movies, music, sports, or whatever, the life of black families is rarely properly portrayed. The ASALH said, “the black family knows no single location, since family reunions and genetic-ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations, and continents.” Family has always held such a major role in African American life and it is so important to understand why and how this is so. 

Some believe that having this one month designated to celebrating black history makes it seem as though it is not as important throughout the rest of the year. However, the goal is to educate people enough throughout the month so that they continue to explore these areas even after February. By designating the whole month as Black History Month, society is given the opportunity to easily discover more about black culture and accomplishments. 

It is also important to help empower black youth and show them why they should be proud of their heritage. Seeing their culture being celebrated for a whole month and recognizing the accomplishments that have been made is bound to give them the same sense of pride Woodson was hoping they would get when he implemented this idea. 

Black History Month brings so much beneficial information with it that everyone needs to know. Whether it is learned through school, the internet or from friends, there will always be more for someone to know. 

If you are interested in learning more about Black History Month and the history behind it, here are some websites that may help: