Black History Month has a history President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on African American History Month in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. From left are, Omarosa Manigault, Trump, Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson, and Lynne Patton. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Black History Month has a history
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Like his predecessors, President Donald Trump commemorated Black History Month. He issued an official proclamation. The White House will host a gala and receptions. They are to celebrate the contributions of the United States' black citizens.
 
"I'm proud to honor this heritage and will be honoring it more and more," Trump said Jan. 31. He was surrounded by African-American supporters and government officials. They were invited to the White House.
 
Black History Month is considered one of the nation's oldest organized history celebrations. It has been recognized by U.S. presidents for decades. Declarations are made and celebrations are held.
 
Here is some information about the history of Black History Month.
 
It was Carter G. Woodson, a founder of the Association for the Study of African American History, who first came up with the idea of the celebration. It later became Black History Month. Woodson was the son of recently freed Virginia slaves. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Harvard. He came up with the idea of Negro History Week to encourage black Americans to become more interested in their own history and heritage. Woodson worried that black children were not being taught about their ancestors' achievements in American schools in the early 1900s.
 
"If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition. It becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world. And it stands in danger of being exterminated," Woodson said.
 
Woodson chose February for Negro History Week. That is because it had the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was born on Feb. 12. Douglass was a former slave. He did not know his exact birthday. But he celebrated his on Feb. 14.
 
Daryl Michael Scott is a Howard University history professor. He said Woodson chose that week because black Americans were already celebrating Lincoln's and Douglass's birthdays. With the help of black newspapers, he promoted that week as a time to focus on African-American history. It would be a part of the celebrations that were already ongoing.
 
The first Negro History Week was announced in February 1926.
 
"This was a community effort spearheaded by Woodson that built on tradition. And built on black institutional life and structures to create a new celebration that was a week long. And it took off like a rocket," Scott said.
 
Negro History Week was wildly successful. But Woodson felt it needed more.
 
Woodson's original idea for Negro History Week was for it to be a time for student showcases of the African-American history they learned the rest of the year. It was not to be the only week black history would be discussed, Scott said. Woodson later supported starting a Negro History Year. He believed that during a school year, "a subject that receives attention one week out of 36 will not mean much to anyone."
 
Individually, several places expanded the celebration. Two such places that expanded the celebration were West Virginia in the 1940s and Chicago in the 1960s. They called it Negro History Month. In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Negro History Week, the Association for the Study of African American History made the shift to Black History Month.
 
Every president since Gerald R. Ford has issued a statement honoring the spirit of Black History Month.
 
Ford first honored Black History Week in 1975. He called the recognition "most appropriate," as the country developed "a healthy awareness on the part of all of us of achievements that have too long been obscured and unsung." The next year, in 1976, Ford issued the first Black History Month commemoration. He said that with the celebration, "we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
 
President Jimmy Carter added in 1978 that the celebration "provides for all Americans a chance to rejoice and express pride in a heritage that adds so much to our way of life." President Ronald Reagan said in 1981 that "understanding the history of black Americans is a key to understanding the strength of our nation."
 
Trump issued a proclamation Feb. 2. It declared February as National African American History Month. The text names Katherine Johnson, a mathematician. She was one of three black women whose roles in the space race were featured in the recent film "Hidden Figures."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does Black History Month have a history?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (120)
  • kmadison-dav
    2/15/2017 - 07:35 p.m.

    Black History Month is considered one of the nation's oldest organized history celebrations. "If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition. It becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world. And it stands in danger of being exterminated," Woodson said. Daryl Michael Scott is a Howard University history professor. With the help of black newspapers, he promoted that week as a time to focus on African-American history. The first Negro History Week was announced in February 1926. Woodson's original idea for Negro History Week was for it to be a time for student showcases of the African-American history they learned the rest of the year. Woodson later supported starting a Negro History Year. In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Negro History Week, the Association for the Study of African American History made the shift to Black History Month. Every president since Gerald R. Ford has issued a statement honoring the spirit of Black History Month.

    • codyp-kul
      3/05/2017 - 11:44 p.m.

      I think it is really cool that is one of the oldest celebrations in the US. But I feel this is a time that they end up protesting something and it gets blown out of this world

  • lellanor-dav
    2/16/2017 - 05:02 p.m.

    In response to, "Black History Month has a history" I agree that the month has an history and should be celebrated. One reason I agree is that it has been going on for awhile. In the article it says,"The first Negro History Week was announced in February 1926." Another reason is that most schools didn't talk about the history of African Americans back then. It says in the article," If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition. It becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world. And it stands in danger of being exterminated," Woodson said. A third reason is that its a time where people get to express their love for their heritage. In the article it says, "He said that with the celebration, "we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." Even though lots of us overlook this month as just a regular month, it actually is not.

  • fblake-dav
    2/16/2017 - 10:40 p.m.


    In response to "Black History month has History," I agree that they month has history. One reason I agree is that African Americans have helped our nation out so much by showing that everybody has rights. Another reason is that they show that African Americans can help our world to. It says in the article "If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition". A third reason is that these people have showed that everybody is created equal. Even though African Americans don't have as much respect, I think
    that this month is very important.

  • jacklynt-ste
    2/17/2017 - 10:49 a.m.

    I think that it is good to celebrate our history. Having a separate month to celebrate the history of a race that should be equal I think is wrong. Black history is not just black history it is american history as well.

  • madeleineb1-lin
    2/17/2017 - 02:45 p.m.

    You ask, "Why does Black History Month have a history?" Well, this celebration isn't made up for nothing, something happened that caused to make this celebration. The African Americans is the ones who made this celebration known as Black History Month. The history of Black History Month is important because the key to the history of black Americans is the key to understanding to the strength of out nation.

  • daltons1-ste
    2/20/2017 - 09:06 a.m.

    It's cool that this is one of the oldest history observances. I knew nothing about black history month. This opened my eyes.

  • josepho-bru
    2/21/2017 - 09:40 a.m.

    According to the article "Black History Month," it says that there are several reasons Black History Month has a history. One reason is because Black History Month was created by a black man by the name of Carter G. Woodson. Secondly is that it was created because of the Civil Rights Act put into the Rights Act by President Abraham Lincoln. Finally I know why Black History Month has a incredible history.

  • daisy2-joh
    2/21/2017 - 10:13 a.m.

    It has a history because of all the slaves throughout the years and then getting freed. I think that the history is very important and shows us what happened.

    • juanita2-joh
      2/21/2017 - 10:36 a.m.

      Yes many slaves were freed and it also shows how heritage is important in any culture

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