Why We Celebrate Black History Month

Carter G. WoodsonIn 1926, Harvard educated historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, ushered into the American experience a celebration of the accomplishments of Black Americans under the banner: Negro History Week.

Woodson, always one to act on his ambitions, decided to take on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.

Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and former US president, Abraham Lincoln. Since 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated from February 1 to February 28th across the United States and Canada.

Any month could have been selected to reflect on the Black American story. However, February holds great significance to all Americans. After all, in Februarys throughout the past two centuries, the 15th Amendment freeing slaves would be passed, the first Black senator would take his oath of office, DuBois would be born, four Black college students would refuse to leave a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the world would mourn the death of Malcolm X.

Because of Dr. Woodson, the world now knows the importance of the African Diaspora experience, and it is almost impossible to find an elementary, middle school, high school, or college textbook that does not include aspects of Black history. In Africana Studies, we are committed to using our people's past glory to guide our future story.

Black History Month at UNM

For over 25 years, Africana Studies at the University of New Mexico has ushered in the University's Black History Month celebrations with the Annual Black History Month Kick-Off Brunch the last Saturday in January. We conclude the celebrations with African American Student Services Black Cultural Conference the first week of March. Please visit our links to see a history of Africana Studies' Kick-Off Brunch and other Black history month programming.

Click here to view Africana Studies Black History Month Guest Speakers