Black History Month

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. waves after his "I have a dream" speech, 1963

Black History Month was started By Carter Godwin Woodson in 1926. Originally this celebration was named Negro History Week. Woodson, born to parents of former slaves, was rightfully concerned that the achievements and contributions of black Americans were being overlooked. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History as a result.

There are reports that Woodson began lobbying for a month in tribute to black Americans as early as 1915. However, in the year 1976 Woodson’s Association was renamed The Study of Afro-American Life and History and was able to secure an entire month in celebration of black Americans.

The entire month of February was dedicated to honoring black men and women throughout the history of the United States. February was chosen for Black History Month in tribute to Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass who were both born in that month. Despite this fact, many people are upset that this honorable celebration falls on the shortest month of the year.

Each year a new theme is selected for Black History Month. In addition, this month of celebration is now recognized in both the United States and Canada. In England Black history Month is celebrated in the month of October.

Despite its obvious benefits there is still controversy over the celebration of Black History Month. Many critics argue that by designating a month to the contributions of pioneers who risked their lives to overcome discrimination throughout history implies that we should not honor these achievements throughout the other eleven months of the year.

In actuality, when Woodson implemented Negro History Week he expected that it would eventually be done away with when African Americans were appropriately integrated in the history of the United States, unfortunately we have not gotten there yet. There is still a significant under representation of African Americans throughout history books.