History of Black History Month

Ever since 1976, the month of February is dedicated to the African American community; aka Black History Month. BHM is a nationwide, federally recognized celebration that calls Americans to reflect on the important roles that the African-American community has played in shaping American history. Want to know more about the history of Black History Month? Read on.

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The man behind the holiday

Today, Carter G. Woodson is a pioneer in the study of African-American history and the Father of Black History. The African American historian is also given much of the credit for Black History Month. Woodson was the son of a former slave and spent his childhood working in quarries and coal mines. Carter G. Woodson received his education during a four-month term since it was customary for black schools at the time. At 19, after teaching himself English fundamentals and arithmetic, Woodson entered high school and completed a four-year curriculum in two years. He then graduated from Berea College in 1903 and earned his master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago. Woodson later earned a doctorate from Harvard.

How the holiday came about

Woodson was disturbed that history textbooks ignored America’s black population. That’s why he started writing Black Americans into the nation’s history.

He did this by establishing the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson also founded the group’s respected publication, the Journal of Negro History.

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson developed Negro History Week. He believed that the achievements of the African American community would factor in early human progress and be a maker of modern civilization. From 1976, Negro History Week was expanded into Black History Month (BHM). 

Why Carter G. Woodson picked February

Woodson chose February because it marked the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.