Black History Month – Background and Resources

By Schools of Thought Editors, CNN

(CNN) In the early 20th century, there were almost no mentions of the contributions of African-Americans in U.S. history textbooks. That is what inspired historian and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson to start “Negro History Week” in 1926. Woodson choose the month of February for this focus because it was the birth month of two leaders who fought to end slavery: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the expanded observance as “Black History Month”, calling upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

    Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the organization started by Woodson in 1915, designates the theme for Black History Month. This year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History”. The theme was chosen, because, as it states on the ASALH website, “To gain an understanding of the history of African American women is to broaden our understanding of a people and the American nation.”