The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement, the event evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The Black History Month 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day.
Take advantage of this great opportunity to focus attention on the history and contributions of African Americans with these recommended resources from Teaching Tolerance, Facing History and Ourselves, The King’s Institute Liberation Curriculum, and the Zinn Education Project. Find lessons that examine the Civil Rights Movement, materials on effectively teaching about American slavery, tools for teaching Reconstruction and remembering a time in U.S. history when Black lives mattered, and ways to encourage youth to think deeply about the African American Freedom Struggle and the current movements for justice.