Why we celebrate Black History Month


Photo by Lauren Thomas

Lauren Thomas

Black History Month is an annual celebration and recognition of blacks and the roles they’ve played throughout history in the US. Since 1976, every U.S president has officially recognized the month of February as Black History month. We honor those who have made a difference within both the black community and the nation. From Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. to Oprah Winfrey and Thurgood Marshall, they have shaped our history for the better. Each week of the month, we will focus on these individuals and their accomplishments. Yet, first, one needs to understand the history behind Black History Month.

Black history month originates from 1915, about a half a century after the 13th amendment was passed and abolished slavery in the U.S. Two men, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an association dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. The association today is known as the association for the study of African American life and history (ASALH). This group created and sponsored the original black history month, which was Negro history week in 1926. They chose the second week of February to include the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The Negro history week inspired schools and communities across the country to host and organize celebrations.

In the 1960’s the civil rights movement helped evolve the negro history week into black history month on college campuses. Gerald Ford officially recognized black history month in 1976, in a speech he told the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.

Each year black history month as a theme, this year the theme is “African Americans in times of war,”. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of War World 1. This year honor the role black Americans have played in warfare from the American revolution to present day.