Why Was February Chosen to Celebrate Black History Month?

2 Posted by - June 6, 2019 - Black History

Every February since 1976, the United States has celebrated the achievements of African-Americans during Black History Month. The month-longcelebration puts those accomplishments and milestones into focus via the media and in classrooms.

But why February? Was that part of the calendar chosen for any specific purpose?

It was. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” a label applied by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Woodson was bothered by the fact that many textbooks and other historical reviews minimized or ignored the contributions of black figures. Along with his Association for the Study of Negro Life and History—later the Association for the Study of African American Life and History—Woodson earmarked the second week in February to raise awareness of these stories.

Woodson chose that week specifically because it covered the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). The ensuing publicity led many mayors and college campuses to recognize the week; through the years, the groundswell of support allowed the occasion to stretch throughout the entire month.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford made Black History Month official, sayingthat he was urging everyone to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

This article was first published at:
http://mentalfloss.com/article/91756/why-was-february-chosen-black-history-month

11 Comments

  • John Mattox June 7, 2019 - 9:18 am Reply

    What a surprise President Ford??

    • Deloise June 7, 2019 - 11:38 am Reply

      Awakening!

    • Bryan L Lord June 9, 2019 - 12:30 am Reply

      Yeah! How about that??

  • susan June 7, 2019 - 11:33 am Reply

    i understand why this is done, but this perpetuates the separation of black histroy from american history. and all too often it focues only on major leaders and known historical figures while ignoring the thousands of blacks who have contributed in remarkable ways over the years. the assumption that well known inventions and breakthroughs were only created by white people persists.

    • Adelaide Solomon-Jordan June 9, 2019 - 12:03 am Reply

      I agree. Every week I do an African American history-biography lesson for a group of 1st and 2nd graders here in rural western Maine, yes Maine. I do not do the “regulars.” This Tuesday we will have our “Second Annual African American Parade” thru our elementary school- pre-k-grade 5. These white and black (mostly black-white biracial) children are growing up knowing that their lives are permeated by the creations and inventions of every day black folk who did and do extraordinary things that daily impact their lives. Yes, I did Ruby Bridges this year, but they are the age she was when she became a shero. Lonnie Johnson, the investor of the Super Soaker. I usually do him when we return to school because they have just spent the summer playing with Super Soakers. Bessie Coleman, who had to learn French, travel to France for her pilot training. French is spoken in many of the homes of children with French-Canadian heritage. Misty Copeland, ofthe New York City Ballet has a personal history that many students here can relate to.

      So, they will learn of the “regulars,” but when the family car stops at a stop light or they turn on a light at home……they know who to thank! Why so young….because they still have an innocence…and acceptance.

      I do “nothing” about the coldest, shortest month of the year. Other folk take care of that…with the regulars!

    • William Crump June 17, 2019 - 4:37 pm Reply

      Some recognition and observance is much better than none. It would be much more beneficial to African American youth and community todevelope a curriculum in the public schools with the requirements to graduate. This would enrich all young minds and develop an awareness and appreciation for the achievement of all Americans rather than just those cherrypicked for recognition and inspiration.

  • Sharon Greene June 7, 2019 - 2:19 pm Reply

    February is the shortest. and the coldest month !!!! I celebrate my Blackness. 12 months of the year!!!!!

    • kevin sargent June 8, 2019 - 2:52 pm Reply

      I agree totally!

  • James June 7, 2019 - 2:33 pm Reply

    Knowledge is power keep reaching keep teaching

  • Glenroy B.Buchanan June 8, 2019 - 7:41 am Reply

    We are not Cemented in anyway to how we Celebrate our History.As we move FORWARD WE CAN ADD AND SUBTRACT, until the Narative is the way it should be.WE HAVE THE POWER,THE INTELLIGENCE,THE SPIRITUAL PROWESS, TO OVER COME. Remembering at all time that our HISTORY STARTED OVER 2 MILLION YEARS AGO. TRUTH TO POWER,Guidance and Blessings.

  • Bryan Lord June 9, 2019 - 12:52 am Reply

    Actually, I feel Black History should not only be celebrated all year long, but it should be interwoven into the history books it has been long kept out of. One of the reasons why Black children and teenagers have become disinterested with school is that the educational system is very biased. I know because I work in the NYC schools. Aside from the fact that there are no shop classes in many of the urban schools (which of course is by design), that can keep Black children’s minds occupied. Everyone doesn’t care to know about the Pythagorean Theorem, or the distance formula in trigonometry! And the majority of Black children are not “groomed to succeed”, as are many White children. And we as Black people overall have a negative view of ourselves because when it comes to history, we are depicted as slaves. Not as proud African kings and Queens! And definitely not as major contributors to building this country! And it is now well documented that every time Black people do something positive and constructive like create thriving communities and businesses like Black Wall Street or Rosewood, jealous White people burn and destroy it! And these perpetrators are never brought to justice!

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