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A brief history of Black History Month and why it is celebrated every February

This month honours the neglected accomplishments of Black Americans.

Black History Month [Western Illinois University]

Its origins are deeply rooted in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February as "Negro History Week."

This specific week was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans. Woodson's initiative aimed to encourage the teaching of Black history in the nation's public schools at the time.

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Over the years, this week-long celebration gained momentum and widespread acceptance. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s further emphasised the importance of Black history, leading to growing awareness and recognition.

By the late 1960s, thanks to the efforts of educators and students at Kent State University, Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month. In 1976, as part of the United States Bicentennial, President Gerald Ford officially recognised Black History Month, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”

February was chosen, not only because of its historical ties but also as a symbol of ongoing struggle and triumph against adversity.

Also, Lincoln's and Douglass's birthdays were already celebrated by the African-American community since the late 19th century. The expansion to a full month gave more opportunity to celebrate the myriad contributions of Black individuals in various fields, from arts and culture to science and politics.

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It's a time for everyone, regardless of race or nationality, to engage with stories of resilience and courage, and to learn about the cultural heritage and contributions of African Americans.

Educational institutions, communities, and various media platforms use this time to spotlight African American history, discussing influential figures and events that shaped the history and culture of the United States.

In today's global context, Black History Month resonates beyond the borders of America. It's celebrated in other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, and holds significance for people around the world, particularly in African nations.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.

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