The Origins of Black History Month

John_Wesley_Edward_BowenBy Kaye Foley

Every February, Black History Month, or National African-American History Month, is observed in the U.S. to celebrate and honor the contributions and impact of black Americans throughout the nation’s history.

Until the 20th century, black history was mostly absent or misrepresented. In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who had become a scholar and a historian, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It’s now known as the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. This organization produced The Journal of African-American History (as its called now), which compiled articles about the black men and women whose achievements had been untold.

In 1926, the association expanded its efforts to tell these stories and created “Negro History Week.” This week eventually became Black History Month as we know it today.

The second week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of two prominent figures in history — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

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