Friday, February 6, 2009
Black History Month
What you need to know about African-American History Month
Q: Why Afro-American (Black) History Month?
A: The true facts of the contributions of Afro-Americans to the discovery, pioneering, development and continuance of America have not properly and adequately been presented in the textbooks, media and other communications media. Indeed, for the most part, Blacks have been left out of the written record about America. The fact that some changes have been made in recent years points to the need for a fuller report about Afro-American contribution. The designation of February as Afro-American History Month is an attempt by ASALH to remedy this neglect and provide for all Americans the information needed for creative and empathetic understanding about Afro-Americans in the nation.
Q: Who started the Afro-American history celebration?
A: In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D. who 11 years earlier had founded the Association for the Study of Afro- American Life and History, initiated Negro History Week. In those early days, the words Afro and Black were seldom used. It was Dr. Woodson's hope that through this special observance, all Americans would be reminded of their ethnic roots, and that togetherness in the United States' racial groups would develop out of a mutual respect.
Q: Why was a period in February chosen for the Afro-American (Black) History Observance?
A: Dr. Woodson was keenly conscious of symbolism in the American psyche. He wisely chose for Negro History Week the period of February which contains the birthdays of Frederick Douglassand Abraham Lincoln. From its initiation, observance of Afro-American History Month has involved many ethnic groups, not only Black Americans.
Q: Why was the name changed to Afro-American (Black) History?
A: Bowing to pressure from young delegates to its Cincinnati, Ohio, Convention in 1972, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc. changed its name to the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, Inc. This name change focused on the new thinking by Black Americans and indicated both the new recognition of African background and the Black person's appreciation of himself as an individual, a citizen and a contributor to the American scene.