Each February, the United States commemorates the impressive contributions of Black individuals. Black History Month traces its origins to 1915, 50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
In that same year, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (later known as ASALH) was founded to promote the achievements of Black Americans and others of African descent.
In 1926, a more formal holiday was established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson with a national Negro History Week, which evolved into today’s Black History Month.
February was chosen because it coordinates with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass — two individuals who were essential to the fight for equal rights for Black people.
Black History Month is loaded with opportunities to learn more about influential Black individuals. Local libraries, television channels and schools often focus on such individuals throughout the month of February, providing ample chances for individuals from all walks of life to learn more about people and events that have shaped the nation.
Watch documentaries. During Black History Month, many networks feature documentaries on influential figures who made their marks in the Black community and beyond. Streaming services also may have documentaries or special interview series available that highlight certain Black figures.
Visit a cultural center. Museums and other cultural or community centers emphasize Black history in February. Even in smaller towns one may be able to attend speeches or readings at local libraries.
Watch movies. Curate a collection of films that were directed by Black directors or feature Black actors in lead roles. Films that chronicle the biographies of Black historical figures also can be educational.
Learn about local Black history. There are specific Black individuals in our community's history, such as E. E. Smith, who are notable for their accomplishments. Many might be surprised to learn about other people and events that helped to shape Black history locally.
Read MLK Jr’s famous letter. People can revisit the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. by reading his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The letter is considered vital for anyone hoping to understand the Civil Rights movement in the United States.
Black History Month provides plenty of chances to learn about influential figures and historical events.