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The Origins of Black History Month – and Why We Celebrate It

By Sumaiya Nasir | February 21, 2022

Every year since 1976, February has been designated as Black History Month. Americans nationwide honor the culture, heritage, and significant contributions of African Americans, as well as recognizing their lasting impact on American history.

Black history has been celebrated in some form or other since 1915, decades after the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States.

Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian and scholar, sought to include a week dedicated solely to Black history in public school curriculums.

He founded what is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), seeking to promote the scientific study of Black history by publishing his own and fellow Black scholars’ findings.

By 1926, Woodson would introduce the nation’s first Black History Week. Black History Week fell on the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, both prominent figures in changing the course of Black history. The week was celebrated nationwide in schools and in public, sparking racial pride amongst Black youth.

The practice of celebrating the second week of February as Black History Week was eventually normalized, due to the political and social climate, brought on by the Civil Rights movement. By the late twentieth century, the week-long tradition became a month.


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