Now well into America’s annual February celebration of Black History Month, we used our trusty online research tool, Questia, to help gather a top 10 list of facts about Black History Month. Some of these facts may be more widely known than others. Just how much do you know about Black History Month?
Here’s our top 10 list:
- Carter G. Woodson founded Black History Month in 1926 to highlight the often overlooked role that African Americans played in both American and world history. Woodson went on to be the second African American to receive a Harvard degree. He went down in history as famous for his African American quotes which continue to be widely used in speeches.
- Black History Month started as a week-long celebration called “Negro History Week.” It was eventually expanded to the entire month of February, getting a boost in the 1960s by the blossoming civil rights movement.
- The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who both played a significant role in African American history. James Thunder, in an online article in Spero News entitled “Abraham Lincoln and Black History Month” where he presents the case for Lincoln being an Abolitionist, despite the debate about some of his perceived pro-slavery decisions.
- It wasn’t until 1976 that every President started designating February as Black History Month.
- Black History Month is celebrated in other countries like Britain and Canada, but in Britain it’s in October.
- Schools started observing the holiday in the 1930s when it was still the week-long celebration of Negro History Week.
- Every year the holiday has a different theme. Examples include “From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas” and “Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social, and Civic Institutions.”
- The 2012 National Black History Month theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History.”
- Black History Month inspired other holidays even before it was a month-long celebration. “Juneteenth,” the June celebration of the abolition of slavery, is one such example.
- February has long been a month of important dates in African American history, including February 3, 1870 when the 15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote; February 25, 1870 when the first black U.S. senator, Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office; February 12, 1909 when the NAACP was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New York City; and February 21, 1965 when Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was shot to death by three Black Muslims.