GREENSBORO, N.C. — Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is an annual celebration of the contributions that African Americans have made to U.S. history in their struggles for freedom and equality.
According to the Library of Congress, National African American History Month was birthed after African American author and historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. That's half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History ("ASALH"), was established "to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community."
Dr. Woodson, along with other prominent African Americans, initiated the first Negro History Week through the ASALH organization in February 1926. The goal was to get schools and other organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African-American history. The program was later expanded and renamed Black History Month. According to the Library of Congress, Dr. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birth months of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans.
Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. This year, President Donald Trump proclaimed February as National African American History Month with the theme being "African Americans and the Vote." This year's Black History Month theme coincides with the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote.
This year's Black History Month theme also marks the 150th anniversary of the first African American to serve in the Congress. In 1870, Hiram Revels, a Mississippi Republican, served a 1-year term in the Senate, where he fought for justice and racial equality. During his lifetime, Senator Revels served as a military chaplain, a minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a college administrator. But, it was Revels' tenure in the Congress that truly distinguished him as a trailblazer.
President Trump is encouraging all Americans to "celebrate the cultural heritage, diverse contributions, and unbreakable spirit of African Americans." If you're interested in learning more about Black history, you might want to consider visiting The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in downtown Greensboro. The museum celebrates the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins that served as a catalyst in the civil rights movement. The vision of The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is "to memorialize the courageous stand of the Greensboro Four as they launched, for posterity, the sit-in movement."