Introduction to Black History Month
Today, we say hello to February and welcome in a special celebration of Black History Month. Black History Month is a time to give tribute and thanks to the generations of African-Americans and people of black background who have fought to ensure that their liberties and freedoms are recognized. At NYAP, we put these qualities at the forefront of our advocacy, which is why we take pride in joining in the observance of Black History Month. To start off the month, let’s take a look at the creation of Black History Month and why people worldwide take part in it.
The first honoring of African-Americans and black individuals in our country began with a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson. His hopes and ambitions to raise awareness of African-Americans‘ contributions to the world was realized when he, and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced “Negro History Week” in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February, 1926 that included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming, and as a result black history clubs sprang up, teachers demanded materials to instruct their students and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African-American life and considerate progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976 which was the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, 50 years after the first celebration, the association held the first African-American History Month. Since then, every U.S. president has issued African-American History Month/Black History Month proclamations.
It is important that while we commemorate the great accomplishments of African-Americans and black individuals during this time, we must continue to give our recognition beyond this month. The struggle for equality in our country has never been easy and if we are to continue our fight for it, we must build on the progress we’ve made. Like so many others, NYAP strives to be a place where people of all walks of life join in recognizing how our differences only make us stronger as one. Join us during this month as we honor African-Americans and black individuals everywhere.