Black History Month actually started as Negro History Week in 1926, but it has roots in Chicago beginning in 1915.
One of my historical heroes, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, started Negro History Week to celebrate the post-slavery accomplishments of the race. He was the first person to acknowledge and record black people’s progress in politics, education, economics and other aspects of society since 1865. He conducted studies and recorded them in the Negro History Journal. People started to acknowledge his findings, and the study of Negro history grew. In fact, it was actually taught in schools around the country. In 1976, exactly 50 years after the initial celebration of Negro History, Black History Month was created. Of course, this is a condensed version of the story. But I wanted to recognize Chicago’s role in this historical event.
People always ask why Black History Month is celebrated during the shortest month of the year. Because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln- two people Dr. Woodson admired – were born and celebrated during this month.
I also want to encourage people to join in the celebrations around the city during the month, but also keep it alive throughout the year. I know that DuSable Museum of African American History, Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Public Library have events lined up. Where are other events taking place?
Lastly, I am reading The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson this month. Feel free to join me.
How are you going to observe Black History Month? What are you going to do to make sure young people know about the contributions of African Americans past and present?