February is the second month of the year of the Julian and Gregorian calendar. It’s also the shortest month of the year with 28 days (29 days during a leap year). In the Northern Hemisphere, February is the third month of winter, but in the Southern Hemisphere it’s the last month of summer. In February, we not only celebrate Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, but we also celebrate Black History Month.
Black History Month happens every year to celebrate the achievements by African Americans, and to recognize the role of blacks in the United States throughout history. Here are 22 Facts about Black History Month and firsts facts in African American History that you may or may not know.
1.Black History Month began in 1915.
2. In September of 1915, Carter G. Woodson (Historian) and Jesse E. Moorland (Prominent minister) founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History or ASNLH.
ASNLH is an organization that dedicated researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other people of African descent. The organization is now called Association for the Study of African American Life and History or ASALH.
3.In 1926, ASALH sponsored a Negro History Week.
It was celebrated nationally. They picked the second week of February because that’s when Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays are.
4. In 1926, Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week.”
Carter G. Woodson was born in New Caton, Virginia in 1875, and died in 1950. Carter G. Woodson is a African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher.
5.Carter G. Woodson was the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University.
W.E.B Du Bois, was the first. W.E.B Du Bois (1868-1963) was an African American activist, co-founder of the NAACP, author, writer, civil rights activist, and Pan-Africanist. Woodson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago, but got his doctorate from Harvard in 1912.
6. Carter G. Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History.”
7. Jesse Moorland was an educator, minister, and philanthropist that lived from 1863 to 1940.
8. Jesse Moorland was born in Coldwater, Ohio, and was the only child of William Edward and Nancy Moorland.
Jesse Moorland was raised by his grandparents after his mother passed away, and his father decided to leave him in their care.
9. Jesse Moorland and his wife Lucy Corbin both went to Howard University where Jesse Moorland studied theology.
In 1891, he graduated with his Master’s degree.
10. By the late 1960s, Negro History Week became Black History Month on many college campuses.
This was due to the Civil Rights Movement, and how people were raising awareness of black identity.
11. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month.
12. Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands also celebrate Black History Month.
Canada and the United States celebrate in February while the United Kingdom and Netherlands celebrate in October.
13. Since 1976, each President of the United States not only designates February as Black History Month, but also endorsed a specific theme.
This year, the theme is, “African Americans in Times of War,” The theme honors the roles of black Americans that have been involved in warfare from American Revolution to now. The theme this year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the first World War.
14. In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion.
He would keep that belt until seven years later in 1915.
15. In Ohio 1854, John Mercer Langston passed the bar to becoming the first black man to become a lawyer.
16. From 1967 to 1991, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
He was appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson.
17. George Washington Carver, an Eminent Scientist, developed 300 products deriving from peanuts.
The list includes; cheese, milk, coffee, plastics, soap, and cosmetics.
18. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm was elected to the House of Representatives making her the first African American woman elected to the House.
She represented New York. Four years later, not only was Shirley Chisholm the first major party African American candidate, but she was also the first female candidate for the president of the United States.
19. Madam C. J. Walker became the first woman in America to become a self-made millionaire.
She invented a line of African-American hair care products.
20. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award.
She got the award for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in the movie Gone With the Wind.
21. In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space.
She was on the space shuttle Endeavor, and was on an eight-day mission where she worked with both the United States and Japanese researchers. Dr. Jemison was also a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.
22. In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President.
He was president from 2009 to 2017.
I’ve learned from this article. There were some facts that I did know, but there were some that I did not. You learn something new everyday, and there is so much more to learn.
Sources: Wiki (February), History Channel (Black History Month; First Facts), Biography (Carter G. Woodson), and Blackpast (Jesse Moorland).