The Origins of Black History Month


It isn’t the month of February without the annual recognition of the achievements of African Americans, known as Black History Month. Ever since 1976, every United States President has deemed the month of February to celebrate the achievements that black Americans have contributed to society. 

So when did Black History Month actually begin? The origin of Black History Month dates all the way back to 1915—fifty years after slavery was abolished in 1865. In September of 1915, an organization under the name the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was founded with the intent to research/promote the achievements of Black Americans. That organization is still alive today, just renamed to be Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This organization can be given major credit for how Black History Month exists today—when it created Black History Week in 1926. 

But why February? The ASALH selected the month of February to celebrate the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both historical figures who contributed greatly to the Civil Rights Movement.

The Black History Week by ASALH gained more and more attention from cities and eventually progressed into an entire month—which is what we are used to today, Black History Month. 

What many fail to know is that every Black History Month actually contains a theme—and this theme is used to highlight a specific way in which Black Americans contributed to our nation. This year, 2023, the theme is marked as “Black Resistance,”—which recognizes how Black Americans overcame the large number of obstacles and challenges they faced throughout the history of the United States.

Black History Month is always an important annual tradition, but it’s always vital to remember that it should not just be limited to one month, and it’s important to recognize black history every day.