Carter G. Woodson and the Origin of Black History Month

The story of Black History Month begins in Chicago during the summer of 1915.  Carter G. Woodson, a graduate of the University of Chicago and Harvard, traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. Thousands of African Americans from across the country came to see exhibits highlighting the progress their people had made since the destruction of slavery.

Inspired by the overflow crowds who waited hours to view the exhibits, Woodson decided to form an organization to promote the study of black life and history.  Later that year Woodson met with A. L. Jackson,  a fellow Harvard alumnus, to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). 

In 1925, Woodson decided that the Association would both create and popularize knowledge about the black past and proclaimed Negro History Week in February, 1926.

Woodson chose February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th. 

For more information about the origins of Black History month visit the ASNLY web page at:

https://asalh.org/about-us/origins-of-black-history-month/

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