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!
- AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth.Gov, a site hosted by The Library of Congress.
- Celebrating Black History Month, a resource from the Poetry Foundation which features poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture.
- Popular Black History Month Books, a list from GoodReads. There are 1,250 books in this list — you’d better get reading!
- Let This February Be A Reminder That Black History Built This.
- Google Celebrates First Day Of Black History Month With Sojourner Truth Doodle.
- What the ‘Father of Black History’ Would Have Actually Wanted Americans to Do for Black History Month.
- 28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month.