February is Black History Month. Black History month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
Known as the “Father of Black History”, Carter G Woodson was born in Virginia in 1875 and was the son of former slaves. Growing up, access to a good education and job opportunities were limited, but he ended up studying at one of the few high schools for black students after saving money from working as a coal miner. Over the years, he gained an impressive number of qualifications, including a PhD in history from Harvard University.
In 1926, he sent out a press release to mark the first Black History Week in the US. Throughout his life, Carter G Woodson worked tirelessly to promote black history in schools, leaving an indelible legacy. The event was expanded in 1970, and since 1976, every US president has officially designated February as Black History Month in the US.
February was chosen in the US because it coincides with the births of former President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – who escaped slavery and became a key social activist. Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.