The History of Black History Month

The father of Black History Month is Carter G. Woodson. A Harvard trained historian, Woodson firmly believed that truth and reason would always prevail over prejudice, and that an awareness of long standing contributions by African Americans to our civilization should be recognized as a part of the larger, American Experience.

In pursuit of this goal, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and in 1925, announced Negro History Week, which was celebrated during a week in February, 1926. February was selected in honor of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. By 1950, numerous cities embraced the idea and issued proclamations and resolutions recognizing Negro History Week.

In 1976, as a part of our nation’s Bicentennial Celebration, the country recognized the importance of Black History as an integral part of the American story. President Gerald Ford urged the country to “seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.”

In 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-244, which designated February 1, 1986 as “National Black History Month.” This law noted that February 1, 1986 would mark the beginning of the 60th annual public salute to Black History.