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As we celebrate Black History Month we want to recognize the many historic events that have shaped black history as well as how it all began. If you don't know how it all started, let me bring out the blackboard because school is in session! 

 

 

 

 

The celebration of Black History Month actually began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. 

Woodson chose the second week in February, as it encompassed both Frederick Douglass’ birthday on February 14 and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12.

Portrait of American historian and educator Carter Godwin Woodson (1875 - 1950), 1910s. Hulton Archive / Getty Images
 



Carter G. Woodson earned his Masters degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard in history. Woodson realized that black people were severely underrepresented in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history. 

 

“When I was going to school, I began to be bugged by the teaching of American history because it seemed that that history had been taught without cognizance of my presence.” - James Baldwin

 

The way many historians taught the nation’s past, African Americans were barely part of the story—a narrative that Woodson knew was not true. So in 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or the ASALH, as stated by Time Magazine. The organization promoted studying black history as a discipline and celebrated the accomplishments of African Americans until this sparked the creation of Black History Month. 

In 1976, Black History Week officially became a month-long celebration. Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. 

 

"A week wasn’t sufficient enough to properly fit in the history of Blacks. And to be honest, one month isn’t enough time as well, but it’s a good starting point."-The Times Weekly

 

Facts to celebrate Black History Month 

The History Channel has compiled a short list of Black History facts, most of them famous firsts in African American history. Check how many you already knew. 

NAACP: Has been around for more than 100 years. The NAACP was started by a group of African American leaders who joined together to form a new civil rights organization. It was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and served on the court from 1967 to 1991.

Self-Made Millionaire: Madam C.J. Walker was born on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and became wealthy after inventing a line of African-American hair care products. She established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories and was also known for her philanthropy.

Population Growth: The black population of the United States in 1870 was 4.8 million; in 2007, the number of black residents of the United States, including those of more than one race, was 40.7 million.

Oscar Winner: In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award—the film industry’s highest honor—for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind.

Into Space: In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. During her eight-day mission, she worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers, and was a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.

White House: In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African-American president in U.S. history. He occupied the White House for two consecutive terms, serving from 2009 to 2017.

 

Black History Month 2019 Theme

In order to fully celebrate Black History Month, we are embracing the theme set out for this year, “Black Migrations". 

Graphic illustration by Dan Talsky (Source)

The Black History Month 2018 theme, Black Migrations emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinatinos and subsequently to new social realities. While inclusive of earlier centuries, this theme focuses especially on the twentieth century through today. (Read More)

 

 

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