“There Is No American History Without African American History,”
– Sara Clarke Kaplan, executive director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.
Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History”
On September 9, 1915, Carter G. Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which later became the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), with a mission to celebrate and record Black History. From the creation of the ASALH, Woodson went on to conceptualize a specific week of the year designated to celebrate and teach Black History in schools.
What began as “National Negro History Week” in 1926, has since evolved into the internationally celebrated Black History Month that communities around the world recognize and actively participate in.
Carter G. Woodson Bio
Woodson was an African American writer and historian. He penned the influential book ‘The Mis-Education of the Negro’; lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution; received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago before going on to receive a doctorate from Harvard in 1912.
February was chosen primarily because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, leaders widely admired by the African American community.
As Woodson’s original idea for the “Negro History Week” grew in acceptance, it eventually gained a national stage along with the civil rights movement in the late 1960s. President Gerald Ford was the first president to officially recognize Black History Month and did so in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
“Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes. It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America,” – President Barack Obama.
This Year’s Theme Is Black Health and Wellness
ASALH designates a new theme for Black History Month each year, in keeping with the tradition Woodson established. This year’s timely theme is Black Health and Wellness to celebrate those who have made such a heroic difference during COVID, but also to amplify injustices when it comes to Black representation in the medical field as well as disproportionate infection rates in minority communities compared to white.
How Are You Celebrating?
We want to hear what you’re doing to celebrate African American Heritage Month. Let us know your stories by reaching out to LaJuana at email@example.com.