Black History Month recognizes the generations of African Americans who struggled, and continue to fight, to fully achieve equity in American society. It recognizes the central role of African Americans in history.
Inspired by African American historian W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to receive a Doctorate from Harvard, believed in the power of truth and reason. Woodson dedicated his life to African American history and to the historical contributions of African Americans. He believed that truth could triumph over prejudice. Thus, Woodson sought to highlight the significant contributions, and achievements of African Americans, and people of African descent, in American progression. Thus, Woodson conceived and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). In 1925, ASNLH announced the inauguration of Negro History Week. The event was celebrated during the birthday week of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, in February. The event engendered a favorable response: Black history clubs were created throughout the country, with teachers asking for instruction materials, and many organizations and individuals adopting and commemorating the week.
The social consciousness of the 1960s dramatically ignited widespread desire to establish African Americans’ history as American history. The Civil Rights Movement increased Americans’ awareness of the contributions of African Americans to history and culture. The movement also underscored the daily, diminutive, dehumanizing experiences of African Americans.
In 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to a month when 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.” That year, the first African American History Month was celebrated.
Each year, the sitting American president issues proclamations on Black History Month and endorses a theme. 2021’s theme is Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. It commemorates the richness of the African diaspora, the effervescence of the Black Family, and the traumatic separation of the Black Family. Today, this month, and every month, EQF celebrates the strength, faith and hope encapsulated in the Black Family.
Source: Library of Congress. “African American History Month.” African American History Month, https://africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/about/. Accessed January 2021.