During African American History Month we honor men, women and communities that have helped to shape the country as well as today’s leaders. “February is a month for us to remember our African American icons,” says J. Sanders, a 12th grader at Pro-Vision Academy charter school. But how did African American History Month come to be? Learn more about the history of this month-long celebration and how today’s youth are taking part.
The History of African American History Month
African Americans have played a pivotal role in shaping our country almost since the founding of the first colonies. Ninety years ago the origins of African American History Month were established as a way to celebrate the contributions many great men and women have made over hundreds of years.
In 1915 minister Jesse E. Moorland and historian Carter G. Woodson founded what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). One of the organization’s earliest accomplishments was establishing National Negro History Week in 1926. All around the country communities came together to celebrate, share history and take part in lectures. The founders selected the second week in February for the event to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
Over the decades more and more cities began to recognize the week. Eventually, after the Civil Rights Movement began and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. became national figures, the week turned into an entire month. Then in 1976 president Gerald Ford became the first U.S. leader to officially instate February as Black History Month.
Every year since, the president has officially recognized February as African American History Month. February 2009 was a monumental occasion, because that was the year our country’s first African American president Barack Obama was able to do the honor. This represents the pinnacle of what the month is all about – equality and hope for every American.
All around the country people have celebrated African American History Month by holding special events, lectures and activities that are focused on the accomplishments of the past and what it will take to keep moving forward. When asked how kids today view African American History Month, 12th grader T.C. responded, “That Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and we are living in his dream. We still have work to do, but we’re making progress.”
Inspirational Quotes for African American History Month
“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.” ~Maya Angelou
“You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” ~Frederick Douglass
“Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power.“ ~Barbara Jordan
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. “ ~Frederick Douglass
“The time is always right to do what is right. “ ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Come help us celebrate African American History Month by volunteering at Pro-Vision Academy. We are proudly educating the African American community leaders of tomorrow!