The Evolution of Black History: From a Commemorative Week to a Celebratory Month

New York Culture
Photo bypikisuperstar via Freepik

February is upon us, and it means that Black History Month has begun! You may love or hate it, but one thing remains the same: both the United States and Canada are celebrating Black history this month, with the UK lagging a bit behind as their designated Black history month is October.

But did you know Black History Month wasn't a month? As you can tell from the title, it started much smaller as Black History Week.

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, a prominent historian and scholar, who dedicated his life to the study of Black culture. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and was ultimately responsible for incepting Black History week on February 7th, 1926. The week would run from February 7th to February 14th each year, and there was a reason why Woodson chose those exact dates.

February 12th was the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest (at least in my opinion) presidents of the United States, who made one of the best and most important decisions in the country's history by abolishing slavery. I mean, the best decision ever would have been never to allow slavery to occur in the first place, but I digress. February 14th, in turn, was the birthday of Frederick Douglas, the leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, who was also a great orator known for his anti-slavery writings. These two men have made an immense and remarkable contribution to Black history, and they were majorly responsible for abolishing slavery.

Only in 1976, exactly 50 years after Woodson implemented Black History Week, was it extended. Gerald Ford, the U.S. President, signed a law designing February a nationwide Black History Month, and it's been this way ever since. But if you ask me, I feel like the entire year may not be enough to learn about Black history.

It's 2023, meaning we will be celebrating the existence of History Week/Month only a few years from now.

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