The Origins of Black History Month
- In 1915, American historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland started an organization known as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) which was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans.
- ASNLH first celebrated Black History Week on February 12, 1926 because they believed in the need to celebrate the achievements of African-American men and women.
- They chose the date because it includes the anniversaries of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the death of Frederick Douglass
- Symbolically, this period reflected Woodson’s belief that African-American history was American history.
- After the first Black History Week, city mayors across the country began to recognize it and celebrate it
- Schools and communities were inspired to organize celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures
- President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
- Today ASNLH is known as Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
Looking for specific books to celebrate Black History Month?
We have a Black History Month list in our catalog here to get you started.