Black history's beginning

Despite the recognition of black history, the information did not gain presence in history books until the 20th century.

The celebration of Black History Month and the study of black history is due to the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson. His parents were former slaves and he spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mine.

Woodson enrolled in high school at age 20.

He graduated within two years and eventually earned a Ph.D. from Harvard.

During his studies, Woodson observed the lack of information about black Americans in history books. He noticed when blacks were mentioned, it was often in an inferior manner that reflected the lower social position they were assigned at the time.

In an attempt to include black Americans into American history, he took on the challenge of writing blacks into the nation's history. In 1915 he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.

A year later, he founded the Journal of Negro History. In 1926 he launched Negro History Week. It was an initiative to to bring national attention to the contributions of black Americans in American history.

Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Their birthdays are in the month of February; however, the month marks numerous significant events in black American history.

  • February 23, 1868: W. E. B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born.
  • February 3, 1870: The 15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.
  • February 25, 1870: The first black U.S. senator, Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office.
  • February 12, 1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New York City.
  • February 1, 1960: In what would become a civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro, N.C., college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
  • February 21, 1965: Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was shot to death by three Black Muslims.

The information used for this document was gathered from's "The History of Black History."

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