It’s February 1st, which marks the beginning of Black History Month.
Started in February of 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, the event began as a week long celebration.
February was selected because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The popularity of this week grew as the decades past and in 1976, the week was extended to a month.
This year’s theme, selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History focuses on “honoring African American women and the myriad of roles they played in the shaping of our nation.”
A lot of controversy surrounds the month. Some people feel that acknowledging African Americans contributions should not be reduced to simply one month.
Actor Morgan Freeman told 60 Minutes years ago, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month. Which one is white history month?”
Edna Greene Medford, chair of Howard University’s history department said,
“Carter G. Woodson.. hadn’t planned for this celebration to be just the month of February,” she said. “It was the beginning of recognizing the contributions and role of African Americans in history. Through that, he hoped that African-American history would be incorporated sufficiently into American history.”
Whether you agree with the celebration or not, there are plenty of ways to contribute or get active in the month’s festivities.
PBS is premiering a documentary called End Black History Month by filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman. Most cities have events that you can attend like the Library of Congress’s Calendar.