Black history month commemorates the significant events and achievements of the African-Americans in the United States. This tradition marked its beginning officially from 1976. It is celebrated in the month of February in the United States. It celebrates all the historic events from 1915, when the thirteenth amendment of the American constitution abolished slavery in the US.
Who Started Black History Month?
It was Dr Carter Woodson who started the 'Negro History Week' to focus people's attention and bring to their notice the role and contribution of African-Americans to American history. Dr Woodson completed his PhD from Harvard. He found the need to become the voice of African-Americans who were wrongly represented and treated in those times. He founded the 'Association for the Study of Negro Life and History' in 1915.
Why is the Event Celebrated?
In 1926 Dr Woodson initiated the celebration in February. He chose February, because the month is marked by the birthdays of two great personalities of American history who had a very big influence on changing the social standing and condition of African-Americans. These two personalities were former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Apart from the United States, this month is celebrated in Canada in the month of February, and in the UK its celebrated in the month of October.
Facts for Kids
You can cite examples of African-Americans who made a contribution to the world in a way that can be understood by kids. Here are a few people that kids can relate to.
- George Washington Carver (1860-1943) - He was the man who gave the world, the kids peanut butter. So it's all because of Mr Carver, kids today enjoy their peanut butter sandwiches so much.
- Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) - Was the first African-American to come with hair care invention and went on to become the first self made female millionaire in North America
- Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) - She earned the name Moses, as she helped hundreds of slaves escape to the northern U.S and Canada.
- Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893) - She was the first female lawyer and also the first female newspaper editor of the U.S. She was also the first woman to open a school in Canada that was open to all races.
- Robert Johnson (1911-1938) - He was the famous guitarist who inspired various other artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King.
- Jesse Owens (1913-1980) - He was the first American to have won 4 gold medals in one Olympics. He was subjected to racism all through his college life but he still stood strong and made the record of the gold medals in Berlin Olympics of 1936.
- Rosa Parks (1913-2005) - She is one of the most famous women in American history. She was the woman who stood for her rights and refused to give up a seat on the bus to a white man which sparked off the civil rights movement. Parks went to jail for her refusal but ultimately came out a winner in the case against the state.
- Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) - He was the first black player to play in Major League Baseball. Even though he had to face the wrath of people, Jackie Robinson emerged winner when he was awarded rookie of the year in his second season
- Sidney Poitier (1924) - He was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for the Best Actor in 1963.
- Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968) - One of the most influential personalities who rigidly practiced the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He led anti-violence demonstrations against racial discrimination, one of which was to Washington.
These are the few African-Americans who made a difference by being the first in their field and paved a way for others to follow suit. Sometimes getting kids to learn these important things needs some planning of fun activities.
These were some facts for you. It is a wonderful way to commemorate the contribution made by great personalities. Brush up your history and celebrate this month with all the enthusiasm.