Black History Month
February is Black History Month, an exciting time to explore the many contributions of African Americans, but how much do you know about this annual celebration that's been around since 1926?
The Struggle for Freedom
On August 20, 1619, 20 Africans arrived as the first slaves in North America. From this time on, the black population resisted slavery and fought for their freedom. During the 1840s, many African Americans actively fought to abolish slavery. Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and became an abolitionist, helped more than 300 slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Even though slavery was abolished with the passing of the Thirteeth Amendment in 1865, it's been estimated that an African American was lynched (which means to be killed, especially by hanging or by a mob) every two days between the years 1890 and 1925.
The Fight for Recognition
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson
During this time, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, a Harvard scholar, noticed the accomplishments of Black Americans were ignored in history books. He began to write African Americans into the nation's history, and established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915. He founded the Journal of Negro History a year later, and also wrote the well-known book, The Mis-Education of the Negro, in 1933. Beginning in 1926, Woodson launched Negro History Week on the second week of February so Americans could reflect on the history and contributions made by African Americans. He chose this time because it marks the birthdays of writer Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, two men who greatly influenced the black population. In the 1970s, the celebration was expanded to include the whole month.
The Celebration of Black History
From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X, countless African Americans have fought for racial justice and helped shape the country we live in today. Even the legendary air of Michael Jordan and the hip hop beats of Nas and Lauryn Hill have helped to further the contributions made by African Americans, who continue to play important roles in fields ranging from education to entertainment.
Have Your Say
How will you be celebrating Black History Month? Let us know in the comments section below.
- Civil Rights Movement Timeline
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- More Behind the Holiday!