black history month

How February Was Designated Black History Month

King March
(Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

Black History Month is celebrated every February as an homage to the achievements of African Americans who have shaped American history.

The idea for a way to celebrate African American achievements started in 1915 by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African American figures of his day.

The Harvard-trained historian and others in his group wanted a way of promoting achievements of African Americans. That group is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life History.

The group chose the second week in February in 1926 to celebrate “Negro History Week.” The week was symbolic in that it was the same week of the birthdays of former President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and prominent abolitionist movement activist.

In the late 1960s, the week evolved into an entire month, thanks in large part to the civil rights movement.

Black History Month takes on a special meaning in 2020 — the 100-year anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and the 150th anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted black men the right to vote.

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