African American History Month or Black History Month began as a week-long celebration in the United States. Eventually, it evolved and expanded to a full month. Black History Month originated in Chicago by Carter G. Woodson an alumnus of the University of Chicago. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. where he lived, along with other alumni to celebrate the 15th anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. The celebration Woodson attended inspired him to form an organization to bring attention to the scientific study of Black life and history before he left town. On September 9th 1923, Woodson and three other individuals established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History also known as ASNLH. In 1924, Negro History and Literature week was created, changed to Negro Achievement Week in 1925, and settled on Negro History Week the following year.
From the 1890s, African American communities had celebrated two people who had a big impact on Black history, President Abraham Lincoln's birthday and the birthday of Frederick Douglass which fell on the 12th and 14th, respectfully. Although Woodson respected the celebration of two wonderful men, he believed that other great African American should be recognized as well and decided to expand the celebration to an entire week.
In 1926 Woodson declared the second week of February as Negro History Week by issuing a press release. The acceptance of Negro History Week began;more people became involved, and the teaching of it made its way into schools. Every year for the annual celebration of Negro History Week, Woodson and others would provide material such as pictures, lesson plans for teachers, scripts for historical performances, and posters of important dates and people. In the honor of Negro History Week, schools even started Negro history clubs.
In 1969 leaders of the Black United students at Kent State University proposed the expansion of Negro History Week into Black history Month. Seven years later, in 1976 their call for expansion actually took place and the annual celebrations continued. President Gerald Ford urged Americans to honor the many African Americans and their accomplishments. Today, we celebrate Black History for the whole month of February in honor of the great African American leaders and their many accomplishments.
For more information on the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) visit www.asalh100.org.
For more information on Carter Woodson, visit Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site at www.nps.gov/cawo.
Here & Now
African American History Month 2017Join African Burial Ground National Monument throughout February for African American History Month activities and performances.
Saturday February 11, 2017 at 1PM
Hands-On Craft workshop by Artist and Educator Vickie Fremont. Arrive early, space is limited.
Thursday February 16, 2017 at 10:45AM
Screening of Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 Black Lives Matter Movement That Transformed America which tells the story of the Florida tourist town, and the campaign that established it among the most violent of the Civil Rights Movement. Followed by discussion with filmmaker Clennon L. King.
Saturday February 18, 2017
Screenings of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
This first documentary about Dr. Maya Angelou reflects on how the events of history, culture, and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism. Held in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme, managed by the Outreach Division’s Education Outreach Section.
Screening to be immediately followed by a discussion with co-director Rita Coburn Whack
Call (212) 637-2019 to RSVP
Call (212) 637-2019 to RSVP
Monday February 20, 2017
Special opening of visitor center for Presidents’ Day Holiday
Tuesday February 21, 2017
1PM - Dance and theater performance by Eclectic Butterfly Dance Theatre