In the United States, the month of February is observed as Black History Month or National African American History Month, and we use the month to remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. The celebration can be felt nationally and worldwide as many organizations, cities, states and countries host events that educate on the rich culture, and memorable figures of African American history. As a new month of remembrance begins, let’s consider the important reasons why Black History Month is observed each year.
Carter G. Woodson was the sole individual responsible for creating Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in February 1926. To Woodson, the black experience was too important simply to be left to a small group of academics, and believed that his role was to use black history and culture as a weapon in the struggle for racial uplift. His goal was to ensure that school children be exposed to black history. Woodson chose the second week of February in order to celebrate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford expanded African American week into a full month. He said the country needed to seize on the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of African Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.
Black History Month is an integral part of our nation’s tradition in which we continue to promote positive examples of poignant historical events, exemplary leaders and steps towards societal change. This remembrance is not only deeply meaningful for the African American community, but imperative for the greater understanding of national and world history.