February is Black History Month and here are five ideas to recognize the heritage, accomplishments, and culture of African Americans in the United States.
Learn the History of Black History Month
Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson is credited with creating Black History Month. Woodson, a professor at Howard University, got the idea in 1915 after attending a celebration in Illinois for the 50th anniversary of the 13th Amendment. Woodson wrote The Journal of Negro History in 1916, which chronicled the overlooked achievements of African Americans.
In the 1940s, efforts began slowly within the Black community to expand the study of Black history in the schools. In the South, Black teachers often taught Negro History as a supplement to United States history. Slowly, more U.S. cities declared official recognition of “Negro History Week.” In the 1960s, during the civil rights movement, the public became more aware of the trials and triumphs of African Americans, a mere seven days turned into a month-long recognition.
Along with being the month of love, February was chosen as Black History Month because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12 and Frederick Douglass on Feb. 14. In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared February “Black History Month” in a commemorative speech. He urged citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
PBS has a slate of programming and digital content to mark Black History Month as part of its continued commitment to showcasing important stories, sourced from the people that make up our nation. These programs unearth remarkable stories of African Americans across generations, from the famous to the lesser-known. Programs featuring powerful trailblazers including Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights worker Wharlest Jackson and Black diplomat, Carl Rowan, were each major influences throughout history. Check out our blog.
Here are some American Classics to Read this Black History Month:
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Roots, Alex Haley
A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Go and see the Black History Museums around the country
Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee
American’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Pauli Murray Project in Durham, North Carolina
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut
Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama
Read what’s available online
Oprah Daily has an excellent webpage filled with information about Black Americans You Don’t Know But Should, interviews Oprah has conducted with Black leaders, inspiring quotes, and a directory of black-owned U.S. bookstores.
The History Channel provides an array of Black History information on its website. Learn more at Black History: Facts and People | HISTORY.com – HISTORY.
The website Libertas Bella has a series of quotes from Frederick Douglass.