Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans, and is a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. In 2016, former President Barack Obama described it this way, “During National African American History Month, we recognize these champions of justice and the sacrifices they made to bring us to this point, we honor the contributions of African Americans since our country’s beginning, and we recommit to reaching for a day when no person is judged by anything but the content of their character.”
In September of 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States (for the most part, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”), the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) was founded. The organization was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. In 1926, the ASNLH sponsored a national “Negro History” week, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Historian, author, and journalist Carter G. Woodson is considered the “Father of Black History,” as he founded the original “Negro History Week.” He’s the featured Google Doodle today.
By the late 1960s, “Negro History Week” had evolved into “Black History Month” on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
As we kick off this month long celebration, we in the English department will focus in particular on the role of African Americans in text and teaching — education, activism, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and even screenwriting. There will be profiles of specific people, as well as the occasional reading list. All month long, we’ll be featuring African American authors and educators, as well as keeping you informed about various CSU Black History Month events of interest, (see the full schedule here). You can find all our Black History Month posts (including last year’s) here: http://english.colostate.edu/tag/black-history-month/
In the meantime, here are some articles, videos, and reading lists to get you started celebrating:
- James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist born on on this day in 1902. Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes!
- Someone Get These Kids Awards For Their Adorable “Newscast” About Black History Month. (video)
- What Kids Are Really Learning About Slavery from The Atlantic, “A new report finds that the topic is mistaught and often sentimentalized—and students are alarmingly misinformed as a result.”
- Celebrating Black History Month, a resource from the Poetry Foundation which features poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture.
- 28 Days, 28 Films for Black History Month from The New York Times, “Our chief film critics have chosen essential movies from the 20th century that convey the larger history of black Americans in cinema.”
- AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth.Gov, a site hosted by The Library of Congress.
- Unpublished Black History from The New York Times, “Revealing moments in black history, with unpublished photos from The New York Times’s archives.”
- 10 Little Known Black History Facts from PBS.
- How To Celebrate Black History Month 2018 & Keep Celebrating All Year Long.
- Popular Black History Month Books, a list from GoodReads. There are 1,118 books in this list — you’d better get reading!
Today’s CSU Black History Month Event:
- The Black History Month Kick-Off is being held today 4-6 pm in the Lory Student Center Ballroom A&B.
Got your tickets for keynote speaker Angela Davis yet? The main event is sold out, however there are still tickets for the simulcast in LSC Ballroom A. Get yours at www.csutix.com! Tickets are required, but FREE. You DO NOT want to miss this!