February Heritage and Awareness

Black History Month

Celebrating Black history began with Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson. To raise awareness of African-American contributions, Woodson announced Negro History Week within the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), in 1925, according to blackhistorymonth.gov. The week was celebrated in February to include the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Negro History Week received positive feedback, with many teachers expressing excitement to teach Black history to their students.

When Woodson died in 1950, Negro History Week had become a major part of African-American life. Many mayors of major cities nationwide issued proclamations recognizing Negro History Week.

During the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the contributions and achievements of African Americans became increasingly well known.

The celebration became a month in 1976, with President Gerald R. Ford telling Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected, accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

That year, the ASNLH commemorated the first Black History Month. Since then, every American president has issued Black History Month proclamations. The association, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), promotes Black history all year!