What is Black History Month?


Everett Collection / Courtesy Everett Collection – stock.adobe.com

Black History Month is an annual month-long celebration in February, which commemorates the achievements of African Americans. Black History Month was created to honor the contributions of African Americans to the United States.

To learn how Black History Month came to be- we have to go back to “Negro History Week”. Carter Godwin Woodson and Jesse Edward Moorland founded the “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History” (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) in 1915. The organization’s mission was to promote studying black history and celebrating the accomplishments of black people.  In 1926, Woodson and the ASALH launchaed “Negro History Week” to bring attention to their mission.  

Woodson decided to launch “Negro History Week” in February because both Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays occur in this month.  This is why we celebrate Black History Month during February.

This celebration caused an influx in studies of the history of black people. Decades later, colleges and universities across the country changed the week into a month on their campuses. By this time it was recognized as a national observance by President Gerald Ford in 1976, with many mayors following suit and adopting the celebration.  

There’s a theme for Black History Month each year.  Last year’s being The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.  This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness which acknowledges the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine. 

Black History Month is important because it’s a reminder that people and organizations created change and persisted even with systemic racism. This month acts as a reminder to Americans about the racism and suffering that Black Americans faced.  Black History Month shines light on a minority whose work does not get the credit it deserves.