Each year, we celebrate and observe Black History Month from February 1st through March 1st to honor the generations of African Americans and the adversity faced to achieve citizenship in America.
The celebration of black history began in 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson noticed the lack of information available on the accomplishments of black people. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH).
The ASALH was founded with the mission to better teach, promote, research, and preserve the African American experience. To help emphasize the mission, “Negro History Week” was launched as the second week of February in 1926.
Woodson chose the month of February to commemorate the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (who served as President during the Civil War) and Frederick Douglass (who dedicated his life as an abolitionist). Woodson viewed the timing and tribute to these men as an opportunity to help encourage Americans to further study black history.
In 1976, Negro History Week officially became Black History Month. President Gerald Ford extended the observance to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
This Black History Month, we encourage our community members to learn more about Black culture, celebrate its differences from our own, and appreciate its contributions to popular culture.
There are many different things we can do to further our education on and celebration of this community.
- Visit the many museums and landmarks in the greater Washington DC area that help commemorate and share black stories and history. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the African American Civil War Memorial & Museum, and The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington are all free and open to the community.
- Enjoy a soulful new recipe that honors black history and learn about its origins
- Support a black-owned business
- Watch a documentary on black culture or watch a movie with lead black representation
- Explore new musical artists
- Read books by black authors
- If you can, donate in support of a black charity (such as the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Little Lights, or Good Projects) or volunteer at a local organization