Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

Origins of Black History Month

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

Carter G. Woodson

That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.

Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities

President Abraham Lincoln
Frederick Douglass

nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.  The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

President Gerald Ford

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Black History Month At Volunteer State Community College

February begins Black History Month at Vol State.  Black History Month celebrates the history and legacy of Blacks in this country and around the world. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion plans multiple programs for February.  Among these programs will be an official kickoff, a soul food potluck, art exhibits, campus townhall discussions and much more.  These townhall discussions will interrogate topics critical to our students and our community.  Finally, we will offer community service initiatives with our student organizations in partnership with other colleges and universities.  Every month of the year is a testament to the history and legacy of Blacks but Black History Month is unique, and we will celebrate this rich history.  The final week of the month will be specifically dedicated to the contributions of women and girls as we segue into March and Women’s History Month.

Make a goal now to attend many Black History Month programs in February of 2019!