Black History Month (aka African American History Month) is an annual observance that takes place in February in the United States and Canada.
The relevance of February goes back to 1926 when the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s (ASALH) founder Dr. Carter G. Woodson first established “Negro History Week” during the second week of February, which encompasses the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass—both men being great American symbols of freedom.
Black History Month was first proposed by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in 1969 and it was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in February 1976 during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial.
Portrait of Carter G. Woodson by Sassa Wilkes
On February 10th, 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first U.S. President to declare February as Black History Month. Every year since, the President of the United States issues a proclamation of celebration for the month of February.
2024 Black History Month Presidential Proclamation
"The soul of America is what makes us unique among all nations. We are the only country in the world founded on an idea. It is the idea that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated with equal dignity throughout our lives. While we still grapple today with the moral stain and vestiges of slavery — our country’s original sin — we have never walked away from the fight to fully realize the promise of America for all Americans. Throughout our history, Black Americans have never given up on the promise of America. Unbowed by the forces of hate and undaunted as they fought for centuries against slavery, segregation, and injustice, Black Americans have held a mirror up to our Nation, allowing our country to confront hard truths about who we are and pushing us to live up to our founding ideals. They have helped redeem the soul of our Nation, ensuring the promises in our founding documents were not just words on a page but a lived reality for all people. In the process, the vibrancy of Black history and culture has enriched every aspect of American life."
Douglas D. Schumann Library & Learning Commons
Wentworth Institute of Technology
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