Black History Page
"A People without knowledge of their Past History,
origin and culture is like a Tree without Roots...."
The History of Black History
by Elissa Haney
have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as "Negro
History Week" and later as "Black
History Month." What you might not know is that black history had
barely begun to be studied-or even documented-when the tradition
originated. Although blacks have been in America at least as far back as
colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they gained a
respectable presence in the history books.
Absent from History Books
We owe the
celebration of Black History Month, and more importantly, the study of
black history, to
Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Born to parents who were former slaves, he
spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in
high school at age twenty. He graduated within two years and later went
on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. The scholar was disturbed to find in
his studies that history books largely ignored the black American
population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally
in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned
at the time.
Established Journal of Negro History
Woodson, always one to act on his ambitions, decided to
take on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's
history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and
History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life
and History) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected
Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an
initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black
people throughout American history.
chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it
marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American
Frederick Douglass and
Abraham Lincoln. However, February has much more than Douglass and
Lincoln to show for its significance in black American history. For
February 23, 1868
W. E. B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of
the NAACP, was born.
February 3, 1870
15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.
February 25, 1870
The first black U.S. senator,
Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office.
February 12, 1909
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New
February 1, 1960
In what would become a
civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro,
N.C., college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's
February 21, 1965
Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism,
was shot to death by three Black Muslims.
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