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Black History Month

Autor: Ljerka Bačurin, 4. 3. 2018.

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. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially made February the month when the achievements of African-Americans are celebrated.

It all started back in 1926 when the historian Carter G. Woodson chose the second week of February to celebrate the contributions of African Americans in the country’s history. Along with his organization, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, he named it “Negro History Week.”

Woodson himself explained the significance of carving out a time period to commemorate African American achievements as such: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today?”

The  movement quickly began to spread in churches and schools in states that had a sizable population of African Americans. Communities started to organize local celebrations, host performances and lectures, and establish history clubs. The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s helped this movement evolve from a week to a month. In February 1969, the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University first proposed expanding Black History Week into Black History Month. The following year, the university celebrated Black History Month for the very first time.

 Since 1976, every American president has designated a specific theme to the year’s Black History Month. Last year, the theme was “The Crisis in Black Education,” which focused  on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. This year, the theme is “African Americans in Times of War,”which will honor the enormous contributions of African Americans in the country’s wars, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.


Ljerka Bačurin, prof.

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