February is African American History Month

Kylie Totten ’24
EE Staff Writer

Banner of the National Archives website which holds a wealth of material documenting the African American experience: www.archives.gov/news/topics/african-american-history

This month marks the 45th annual African American History month. With all the racial justice protests that have occurred throughout 2020 and 2021 in the United States, it is a fitting time to spread awareness about the struggles African Americans have been through to earn their freedom.

Since 1976, the month of February has been devoted to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of African Americans and their role in United States history. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands have joined the United States in dedicating a month to the celebration of African American history.

The month-long celebration started as just a week in 1925. Originally called “Negro History Week”, it was an annual celebration that took place during the second week of February. This week was specifically chosen to coincide with the birthdays of African American advocates Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was responsible for the creation of the event.

The ASALH organization was founded on September 9, 1915 by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson is considered to be the “Father of Black History” and was one of the first scholars to study African American history. Woodson created the ASALH to study and educate people about the history and achievements of black Americans.

Negro History Week spread awareness across towns, cities and communities all over the United States. Schools held celebrations throughout the week and teachers started to further educate their students on the topic. Finally in 1976, President Gerald Ford dedicated February as African American history month and every president following Ford has honored this dedication. Ford encouraged and inspired Americans of all races to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

Last year, companies including Google, Coca-Cola, Target, Under Armor and Macy’s were celebrating and introducing products to support Black History Month. Under Armor partnered with Stephan Curry to release the Curry 7 sneaker, Coca-Cola released the “History Shakers” ad campaign and Macys donated over $10,000 to charities. This year Apple was the first to publicly celebrate African American history month, they are featuring stories, shows, and songs of African and African American culture on many of their app platforms.

This February, take the time to learn more about African American history and culture. There are so many things you can do to show your support, like listening to music by African American artists, reading a book by an African American author, or trying cuisine from an African American restaurant. Take the month to educate yourself as well as your friends and family on the struggles and accomplishments of African Americans.

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