Black History Month is observed each February in the United States, many people are not aware of how this started. And most people do not know that a Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson is the man behind this tradition. As a descendent of a formerly enslaved race, he was thoroughly familiar with how black Americans were being left out of the narrative of American history. His dream to correct this glaring oversight realized when he and an organization funded by him, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) announced and celebrated Negro History Week in 1925 during February, as the month encompasses the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Woodson hoped that Negro History Week would encourage better relations between black and white people in the United States as well as inspire young Black Americans to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of their ancestors.

The response from the celebration of the Black History Week was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

During the Civil Rights Movement, South’s Freedom Schools started observing the week and its curriculum to be a part of the mission. There were major problems with the then history textbooks like in the mid-1960s, the most popular textbook for eighth-grade U.S. history classes mentioned only two black people in the entire century of history that had transpired since the Civil War. To rectify such issues, colleges and universities across the country transformed the week into a Black History Month on campus.

American educators and historians both white and black started observing black history week and expanding the historical narrative to include black Americans. In 1976, when the USA celebrated its bicentennial, Woodman’s ASALH extended the weeklong celebration into a month, and that was the beginning of the Black History month.

President Gerald Ford urged Americans to observe Black History Month, but it was President Carter who officially recognized Black History Month in 1978. Each year, the ASALH gave Negro History Week themes, and that tradition has extended into Black History Month to help narrow people’s focus to aspects of Black history. In 2021, the theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”.