The History of Black History Month

The History of Black History Month

Black History Month is a celebration of the progress, richness, and diversity of African-American achievement. While each and every time Black History Month is observed is special, it was even more so in 2009. Less than a month earlier, on January 20, the first African-American to be elected president, Barack Obama, took the oath of office.

Carter G. Woodson is responsible for implementing what would eventually become Black History Month when he created and promoted Negro History Week in 1926. He chose the second week in the month of February for this event as it coincided with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson was the son of former slaves who lived in Virginia. He came to the realization that African-American accomplishments and achievements, through great struggle, were being ignored or incorrectly represented or recognized. This led to him founding the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). This foundation supports historical research and is also responsible for publishing a scholarly journal. In addition, it is responsible for setting the theme for each year’s Black History Months.

Woodson lived in Washington, DC from 1915 until 1950, when he died. His home there is designated a National Historic Site, and the headquarters of ASALH are located in Washington, DC.

Black History Month was officially implemented in 1976, the same year as our nation’s Bicentennial, when then-President Gerald R. Ford called on Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  

Black History Month 2009:  Honors the legacy of struggle and triumph.

Black History Statistics:  These statistics include population information, number of African-Americans serving in Armed Forces, education and business figures as they apply to African-Americans as well as other statistics.

Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Celebrate At School: Themes available for schools and other organizations to celebrate the month.

Celebrate in church: Suggests using hymns and songs that depict the struggles and triumphs.

Recommended Black History Books: Reading Rockets gives titles of recommended books relating to Black History Month.

Notable African-Americans and civil rights Figures

USS Mason and her crew: Provides pictures, information on upcoming reunions and events, and other related news and articles.

USS Mason Photos: USS Mason at various times during her commission

George Washington Carver:  This website includes information on the life and legacy of George Washington Carver.

Frederick Douglass Biography:  This resource includes a biography of Frederick Douglass’s life.

Harriet Tubman Biography:  This website gives a short biography on Harriet Tubman.

Thurgood Marshall Biography:  This website g ives a biography, including a timeline on the life of Thurgood Marshall and his time on the Supreme Court.

W.E.D. DuBois:  This article also tells about how he used his “Crisis” magazine to get his views across to everyone, not just the African-American community.