February is black history month, the month we collectively highlight, celebrate, and acknowledge the contributions of African Americans to our history. We look forward to a time when the notion of a black history month becomes redundant because we acknowledge black history everyday.
How did February become black history month?
The earliest version of what is now black history month started in 1926 as Negro History Week organized by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The organization was founded 11 years earlier in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland with a goal to bring attention to how underrepresented African Americans were in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history. According to Woodson, “the achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization."
Woodson chose the second week in February, because it coincides with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12) - two men who played a prominent role in ending slavery.
This was the foundation for what is now a national Black History Month, observed every February. Woodson also believed it was important to have a theme—an area of focus for Black History Month and this has been the case since its inception. This year’s theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”.