Black History Month Facts for Kids

Black History Month Facts for Kids

Every February in the United States, we joyfully honor African Americans’ lives, accomplishments, and rich history through a special celebration known as Black History Month or African-American History Month.

This celebration extends beyond our borders and is also observed in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

So, why do we celebrate Black History Month, and why in February? It’s a way to highlight and appreciate the important contributions of African Americans to our nation’s culture and progress. Let’s embark on a fascinating journey to discover some amazing 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 on December 19, 1875.  He was the son of former slaves. 

As a child, he worked in the coal mines in Kentucky.   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 in 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 Americans served as soldiers. They made up around 10% of the Union Army.

On April 8th, 1864, the 13th Senate passed the U.S. Amendment, abolishing Slavery.

Meaning that slavery was no longer allowed. It went into effect on January 1st, 1865, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Texas refused to free its 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.

Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are credited for starting the Civil Rights Movement when they organized a bus boycott, eventually leading to the desegregation of public transportation.

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, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, 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 schools illegal.

Notable Figures of Black History Month

August 30th, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American appointed Supreme Court Justice.

In 2009, Obama became the 1st African-American President of the United States of America.

In 2021, Kamala Harris became the 1st woman and 1st person of African or Asian descent to become Vice President.

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, the first Black pro-basketball team, 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.

Madam C.J. Walker created women’s hair care products. She was the first female African-American millionaire.

 

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