Every February in the United States we celebrate the lives, achievements and history of African-Americans in our nation. We call this month Black History Month or African-American History Month. Black History Month is also celebrated in Canada, United Kingdom and Germany. Some kids
may ask why do we celebrate Black History Month and why is Black History Month in February? It is important to celebrate African-American history and culture. Find out awesome information with these Black History Month Facts for Kids.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is a month-long celebration to celebrate the many contributions African Americans have made in this country and around the world.
It is time to celebrate African American culture and history.
When did Black History Month Begin?
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. He was the son of 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 Ph.D. 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.
Father of Black History Month
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 Gerald Ford stated, “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.”
Black History Month is celebrated in the United States, Canada, and the 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 in 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 Amendment 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 Association 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.
February 10th 1964
The Civil Rights Act was passed.
Interesting Black History Facts for Kids
The first known slave ship brought 20 enslaved Africans to the United States in 1619 on a Dutch Ship.
Most slaves in the United States were used on plantations and working the fields. They were free labor for the people who owned the plantations. Slaves became high in demand in 1793 with Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin.
The United States congress banned importing slaves in 1808.
Harriett Tubman was an escaped slave. She helped over 300 slaves gain their freedom through the underground railroad.
The underground railroad was a network of people, houses and places that slaves used to escape slavery in the South and get to freedom in the Northern US and Canada.
During the Civil War around 179,000 African-American served as soldiers. They made up around 10% of the Union Army.
On April 8th 1864 the the 13th amendment was passed by the U.S senate abolishing Slavery.
Meaning that slavery was no longer allowed. On January 1st 1865 it went into effect when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Texas refused to free their slaves and the enslaved African-Americans in that area did not know that they were free.
On June 19, 1865 General Gordan Granger along with union soldiers went into Galveston Texas and forced them to free their slaves. This day is known as Juneteenth and it became a federal holiday in 2021.
Dr. Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist. On August 28th 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington. He wanted people to be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin.
On February 10th 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed which made it illegal for local and state governments and places to deny access to someone based on ethnicity or race. It also made segregation in school illegal.
In 2009 Barack Obama became the 1st African-American President of the United States of America.
In 2021 Kamala Harris became the 1st female and 1st African-American woman to become Vice President.
Interesting African-American Facts for Kids
Rebecca Lee Crumpler attended New England Medical College and in 1864 became the first African-American women doctor in the U.S.
In February of 1923 On the first Black pro-basketball team called The Renaissance was formed.
In 1947 Jackie Robinson joined the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is credited for being the first African-American in professional baseball.
John Taylor was the first African-American gold medalist. In the 1908 summer Olympics in London John was part of the men’s medley relay which took home gold.