Black History Month is a yearly celebration of the contributions made by black Americans to American history and the development of America. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926.
Dr Woodson was born to parents who were former slaves and he grew up working in the Kentucky coal mines. At the age of twenty, he enrolled in high school and graduated within two years. He later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University and worked as a professor there. He was also a Dean of Liberal Arts at the Howard’s university. Later on, he became the Dean at West Virginia State College.
In the course of his studies, Dr. Woodson was surprised to discover that the history books largely ignored the black American population and when blacks did figure, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.
Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two influential figures in Black history were born in the month of February; hence, Carter Woodsen’s decision to recognize February as the Black History Month.
President Ford, in 1976, gave out the first Message of Observance of Black History Month. February was labelled ‘National Black (Afro-American) History Month’ by congress ten years later. Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.