A version of this text was published in New York Family on Jan 31, 2020
Half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, the first Balck History Month was celebrated. In 1925 Carter G. Woodson decided it was time to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to society, science, and culture. The Harvard historian founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). In the next year, the first Negro History Week was celebrated during the second week of February.
ASNLH’s tactical choice for this date coincides with Abraham Lincoln and Frederik Douglass’s birthdays. The symbolic figures of Lincoln- the first American president who expressed his moral, legal, and economic opposition to slavery, and Douglass, a social reformer and national leader of the Abolitionist movement– legitimized somehow the Negro History week and united black communities across the nation.
The huge success powered blacks to establish clubs, organize local celebrations like artistic performances and history lectures.
One of the main goals of Woodson’s organization was to promote the history of American blacks and how it was taught in public schools. Progressive teachers and officials from Departments of Education of the states in North Carolina, Delaware, West Virginia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. cooperated in changing the way students learned about American history and culture.
In 1976, fifty years after the first recognition, the ASNLH expanded the venue to the first African American History Month, aka Black History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history.
The Black History Month 2020 moto is “African Americans and the Vote.” Organizers want to honor the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) that grants women’s right to vote, as well as the Fifteenth Amendment (1870), that gave black men the right to vote.