This month is best known for raising the awareness of African Americans’ contributions to civilization and giving your time back to those who help you.
As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.
The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week.
President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then each American president has issued Black History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.
(Excerpt from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History)