History of Black History Month

Black History Month's origins began in September of 1915 when Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This organization's founding mission was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other people of African descent. Over time the name changed to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), but the premise has remained the same. 

In 1926, the group sponsored the first National Negro History Week during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Communities and schools nationwide helped organize local celebrations and by the 1960s the week had evolved into Black History Month on college campuses. In 1976, President General Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling all Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  

This year's theme for the month is "African Americans and the Arts," shining a spotlight on African American pioneers who pushed through industry roadblocks to make way for future leaders in all forms of cultural expression, including performing arts, literature, culinary arts, architecture and more.  

Want to learn more about Black History Month? Check out this reading list below for some ideas of where to start.

View Full List