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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:51 AM

A Look at Who Gets Left Out of Black History Month [View all]


Vicente Guerrero, Afro-Indio 2nd president of Mexico, who abolished slavery in 1829.
Photo Credit: Eduardo Baez

Once again, the month of February is here, marked as Black History Month on calendars in the United States and Canada (October in Great Britan).

Schools, community groups and bloggers will focus attention on the historical contributions of blacks to our culture. When I was growing up it was called "Negro History Week."

Back History Month had its beginnings in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history. Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.

In 1976, the federal government acknowledged the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February of 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month occurred at Kent State in February of 1970. Six years later during the bicentennial, the expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was recognized by the U.S. government.

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