Black History Month is celebrated annually in the United States, Canada, in the United Kingdom and in Germany. It is also known as African-American History Month in the United States. The purpose of Black History Month is to remember both the important people of African descent and the important events in Black history. Black History Month began in 1926 as an annual week-long celebration called Negro History Week, created to encourage education about America’s Black history. By 1929 it had gained nationwide support. In 1969, leaders of Kent State University’s Black United Students proposed a month-long celebration, which took place one year later in February 1970. In 1976 the United States government officially recognized Black History Month.
- Black History Month is celebrated in February in Canada and in the United States.
- Black History Month is celebrated in October in the United Kingdom.
- Throughout history, many important events in Black history have occurred in February. It was chosen as the month to celebrate Black History Month because the Black abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass was born in this month, and so was Abraham Lincoln who played an important role in shaping Black history.
- In 1619 the first enslaved Africans (20) were brought to the U.S. on a Dutch ship.
- The demand for slaves in the U.S. increased in 1793 when Eli Whitney’s new cotton gin was introduced.
- In 1808 Congress banned the importation of slaves.
- In 1849 Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. She later helped about 300 other slaves gain their freedom by escaping through the Underground Railroad.
- The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution was adopted by the 38th Congress on February 1st. This amendment abolished slavery. It was approved in 1865.
- The first Negro History Week took place beginning February 7th, 1926. Carter G. Woodson was its creator.
- Carter G. Woodson, the ‘Father of Black History’, was the son of former slaves Eliza and James Woodson. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D from Harvard University.
- The first African-American woman to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship was Debi Thomas in 1986.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed on February 10th, 1964. It made it illegal for state or local governments or public facilities to deny access to anyone because of ethnic origin or race. It also made segregation in schools illegal and subject to law suits.
- On February 13th, 1923, the first Black pro-basketball team was organized. It was called ‘The Renaissance‘.
- On February 19th, 2002 Vonetta Flowers won the first Black gold medal in Winter Olympic Games‘ history. Vonetta and her partner won the (women’s) inaugural two-person bobsled event.
- Elston Gene Howard, a Black baseball catcher, signed a contract with the NY Yankees for $70,000 in 1929. It was the largest contract in history (at the time) in baseball history.
- Debi Thomas was the first African-American to win a medal at the Winter Olympic Games. She won bronze for figure skating in 1988.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. He was one of the most famous African-American Civil Rights Movement leaders.
- In 2009 Barack Obama became the first Black United States President.