Black History Month is a significant month in the United States that celebrates the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history. This month-long event is observed every February and has been a part of American culture for over four decades.
However, many people may not know that Black History Month was not always called as such. In fact, it was originally known as “Negro History Week” and later evolved into what we now know as African American History Month.
The precursor to Black History Month was established in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Woodson’s goal was to create a week-long event that would honor the accomplishments of black Americans and promote their history to schools across America. The second week of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent figures in African American history.
The concept of Negro History Week quickly gained popularity throughout America, particularly among educators and students in historically black colleges and universities. As time passed, more people began to recognize the importance of recognizing black history beyond just one week a year.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month as a national observance during America’s bicentennial celebration. This recognition marked an important milestone in America’s history, signaling a shift towards greater awareness of African American contributions to society.
However, despite its growing popularity and significance, there were still those who felt that “Negro” was an outdated term that carried negative connotations from America’s segregationist past. In response to this sentiment, ASNLH officially changed its name to the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASAALH) in 1972.
In 1986, under President Ronald Reagan’s administration, Negro History Week officially became African American History Month. This change reflected a growing trend towards cultural sensitivity and inclusivity in America. Today, African American History Month is a widely recognized event that celebrates the rich history and cultural contributions of African Americans.
In conclusion, Black History Month has come a long way since its inception as Negro History Week. It has evolved to become a significant event that recognizes the invaluable contributions of African Americans to America’s past, present, and future.
By changing its name to African American History Month, it has also evolved to reflect a greater awareness of cultural sensitivity and inclusivity. As we continue to celebrate this important month every February, let us remember the sacrifices and achievements of those who came before us and strive towards a more equitable future for all.