The beginning of Black History Month
By Senior Airman BrieAnna Stillman, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 27, 2019
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Black history is American history in itself; the beginning of black history month dates back to 1915.
According to David Dollman, 20th Fighter Wing historian, African American history began upon the first arrival of enslaved people from West Africa in the 16th century and from then on have been influencing history through life, culture, inventions and so much more.
Harvard trained historian Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland founded a group called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The organization was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other people of African descent.
African Americans have been contributing to American history since the colonial period. This means no war has ever been fought by or within the United States without the participation of African Americans according to history.com.
The ASNLH decided to sponsor a national Negro History week in 1926 during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The week inspired people nationwide to take part in celebrations and establish history clubs. Within the next few decades, mayors across the country started issuing yearly proclamations in order to recognize Negro History Week.
In the late 1960s, due to civil rights movements and people becoming more accepting of black identity, Negro History Week became Black History Month throughout many college campuses.
President Gerald Ford said, “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Ford went on to officially recognize Black History Month in 1976.
“I believe Black History Month is important because we need to maintain not only the big names like MLK, but also people like the Arkansas 5, and most people would sit there and ask ‘who?’- they were a huge part of the desegregation for college in that area,” said Dollman.
Today Black History Month is not only a national observance, but also recognized in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. Black history is American history, contributing to the United States being one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.