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Black History Month
Black History Month is a time when the contributions and achievements of black people are celebrated and studied in schools and libraries across the nation. It is observed in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In the United States it is sometimes referred to as African-American History Month.
When is it observed?
Black History month is observed in February in the United States and Canada, and October in the United Kingdom.
Each year there is a theme for the month. Here is a list of some of the recent themes:
2010 - The History of Black Economic Empowerment
2011 - African Americans and the Civil War
2012 - Black Women in American Culture and History
2013 - At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.
2014 - Civil Rights in America
2015 - A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture
2016 - Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories
What do people do?
Black History Month is mostly observed in the nation's schools. Students study prominent African-Americans leaders and the history of the civil rights movement. Other organizations may celebrate the month with special programming or exhibits.
Here are some things you can do:
History of Black History Month
- Read a biography of an African-American that you aren't familiar with. Some interesting examples would be Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass.
- Study about the Underground Railroad and learn the paths slaves took to freedom.
- Listen to a recording or watch a video of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving a speech on civil rights.
- Pick a subject you are interested in (for example art, music, science, business, education, etc.) and research the contributions made to that area by African-Americans.
- Discover the history of African-Americans in your state.
- Design your own postage stamp that celebrates the month.
The idea of setting aside a time to highlight black history was first introduced in 1926 by a historian named Carter G. Woodson. He picked a week in February near to the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
. Over the next several years, the idea took hold at many college campuses and school districts throughout the nation. In 1976, President Gerald Ford
officially recognized Black History Month and each president since has designated February as Black History Month.
Interesting Facts About Black History Month
- The month was first observed in the United Kingdom in 1987 and in Canada in 1995.
- The NAACP was founded on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
- In 1976, the theme for the month was "America for All Americans".
- There are schools named for Carter G. Woodson in many states including California, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.
- There have been many U.S. postage stamps over the years that celebrate the month.
- The month of June is celebrated as African-American Music Appreciation Month.
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