Black History Month started out as Negro History Week. Negro History week was started in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson was born December 19, 1875. His parents were former slaves. As a child he worked in Kentucky in the coal mines. He enrolled in high school at the age of 20 and graduated in two years. He later went to college and earned his PhD at Harvard.
While in school Dr.Woodson was upset that African American contributions were overlooked and ignored in textbooks. He began doing research on African American History and established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. Later he started Negro History Week. The purpose was to focus the attention on African American contributions to civilization. Negro History Week was held the 2nd week in February. Dr Woodson picked that week because it marks the birthdays of two men he felt were significant in black history Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Woodson went on to be known as the “Father of Black History Month.” The federal government expanded Negro History Week to a month. February became Black History Month in 1976 President GeraldFord stated “Seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor througout history.” Black History month is celebrated in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.
Not everyone approves of the idea of Black History Month. Critics feel Black history is American history and should not be celebrated for one month but throughout the entire year.
Other important dates in African American history that occurred February are:
February 23, 1868:
W.E.B DuBois, civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born.
February 3, 1870:
The 15th Admenment was passed, granting African Americans the right to vote.
February 25, 1870:
The first African American U.S. senator was sworn into office. His name was Hiram R. Revels
February 12, 1909:
The National Assicaiation for the Advancement of Colored People was founded known as the NAACP
February 1, 1960:
College students organized a civil rights sit-in at a Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.