In the 21st century, many Americans question the need for Black History Month while being ignorant of the facts that led to its launch. Some argue that black history should be celebrated year-round, as it’s no different from American history generally. Others resent the month because they feel it singles out African Americans in ways that other racial groups are not.
In fact, cultural observance months for Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans take place every year as well—and have for years.
Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson did not spearhead a time of year to recognize the achievements of blacks to exclude others but because the history books of his era largely ignored the contributions people of color made to U.S. society. Reflecting on the origin of Black History Month will help naysayers clear up misconceptions about its founding and purpose.
Well versed in the achievements of African Americans, Woodson wanted to publicize their contributions to the world. He accomplished this goal by establishing the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) and announcing the creation of Negro History Week in a 1926 press release.
“We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements,” he reportedly told students of Hampton Institute.
Blacks and socially conscious whites embraced the idea, founding black history clubs and teaching young people about the event. The wealthy even donated funds to spread awareness about black history.
For years, African Americans have jokingly questioned the fact that Black History Month takes place in the shortest month of the year.
The decision to celebrate African American history in February was not an attempt to shortchange blacks but arrived at because one week in that month encompasses the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, which fell on the 14th and the 12th, respectively. The African American