Every February, the United States of America celebrates Black History Month as a recognition of the achievements of African Americans and their pivotal role in U.S. history. It is also known as African American History Month, and throughout the month, we honor the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history, such as the civil rights movement, science, the arts, as well as cultural and political achievements.
Here are 5 things to know about it.
1. Carter G. Woodson, a historian and president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded the movement. In 1926, Woodson designated the second week of February as "Negro History Week" and galvanized fellow historians to promote and educate people about Black history and culture. Woodson envisioned a weeklong celebration to encourage the coordinated teaching of black history in public schools.
2. The Negro History Week evolved into what is now known as Black History Month in the late 1960s. Protests against racial injustice, inequality, and anti-imperialism occurring in many parts of the U.S. were critical to the change. Colleges and universities also began to hold commemorations, with Kent State University being one of the first.
3. The theme changes yearly, and this year's theme is “Black Resistance,” which explores how "African Americans have resisted historical and ongoing oppression in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings," since the nation's earliest days.
4. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, when he called upon the public to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.
5. Black History Month isn't only celebrated in the US; Canada also celebrates it in February, while the United Kingdom and Ireland celebrate Black History Month throughout October.