Since 1926, Americans have celebrated Black History as an annual event. First known as “Negro History Week” it later evolved to “Black History Month” One interesting thing to note is that even though we were trying to make note of black history early one, it was barely ever studied or documented from its early days. Even though blacks have been a part of America’s history as far back as in colonial times, they did not gain any notoriety in history books until the 20th century. It is thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson that we now enjoy the study of Black History and the celebration of Black History Month. Dr. Woodson was born to former slaves. He spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and did not enroll in high school until he was twenty years old. He graduated just two short years later and went on to earn a PhD from Harvard. He was a scholar who was disturbed to learn through his studies that most history books did not contain information about the black American population. When blacks were mentioned, they were usually referenced in inferior social positions that they also lived at the time.
Dr. Woodson decided then and there to accept the challenge of writing about black Americans and their part in American history. In 1915, he was responsible for establishing the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which is now known as the Association for the Study of afro-American Life and History. In 1916, he founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he came up with Negro History Week as a way to bring national attention to the contributions of blacks throughout American history.
The second week of February was chosen as Negro History Week because it was the birthdays of two men who greatly affected and influenced the blacks. These two men wereand President Abraham Lincoln. February is also noted for its significant events in Black history. Some are noted here.
On February 23, 1868 W.E.B. DuBois an important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP was born. On February 3, 1870 the 15th amendment was passed which granted blacks the right to vote. On February 25, 1870, the first black US Senator Hiram R. Revals took his oath of office (1822-1901). On February 12, 1909, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New York City. On February 1, 1960, in what would become a civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro N.C. college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism was shot to death by three black Muslims. The list goes on and on. For a good read on black history, go to the library of go online and search on black history. There is a ton to read and learn about this fascinating period in American History.