(ABC4) – Every year, February kicks off the celebration for Black History. It is a month dedicated to remembering the achievements of African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.
As we begin to celebrate the month, it is important to learn more about the history surrounding it all.
According to historians, Black History month first gained momentum in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, right after the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
That September, the Harvard-trained historian and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
Historians say, the group first sponsored a national Black History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event then inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures.
“When Carter G. Woodson established Black History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public,” informs ASALH. “The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.”
The theme for 2021 is Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
Historians say since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.
The Black History Month 2021 theme, explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.
“The black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy,” ASALH shares. “Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time. The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present.”
According to officials, city leaders across the nation began to recognize the dedication, and by the 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Black History Month emerged on many college campuses and then later into the society we know as today.
“Happy #BlackHistoryMonth! This February, let’s remember that Black History is American History. This month is a time to celebrate all that Black Americans have given our nation while also recognizing how much work there is to be done to end systemic racism,” shares Martin Luther King III.