Black History Month celebrates the contributions that Black Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality, and deepens our understanding of our nation's history. February is the birth month of two figures who loom large in the Black past: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (born February 12), who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and African American abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass (born February 14).
National Black History Month has its origins in 1915, when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
In 1975, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Week urging all Americans to "recognize the important contribution made to our nation's life and culture by black citizens." In 1976, ASALH expanded this commemoration of Black history in the United States from a week-long observance to Black History Month, which also has been known as African American History Month. In the same year, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Month . In subsequent years, presidents continued to issue messages honoring Black History Month. In 1976, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Month . In subsequent years, presidents continued to issue messages honoring Black History Month.
Interesting African Americans
HIRAM RHODES REVELS (1827-1901)
First Black U.S. Senator
In 1868, Revels was elected alderman in Natchez, and the following year he was elected to the Mississippi State Senate. On February 25, 1870, after a two-day debate, Revels was elected by a vote of 81 to 15 in the Mississippi State Senate to finish the term of one of the state’s two seats in the U.S. Senate, which had been left vacant since the Civil War by Albert Brown.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (1856-1915)
Booker T. Washington is one of the most controversial and dominant figures in African American history. He advocated that African Americans could attain their prosperity through educational and practical skills rather than relying on the government for collective advancement. “He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.”
HENRY OSSIAN FLIPPER (1856-1940)
Born near Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856, Henry O. Flipper rose to prominence as the first African American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877.
Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)
Coleman was the first Black woman to fly an airplane. When American flying schools denied her entrance due to her race, she taught herself French and moved to France, earning her license from Caudron Brother's School in just seven months. She specialized in stunt flying and performing aerial tricks. Reading stories of World War I pilots sparked her interest in aviation.
C.R. PATTERSON & SONS COMPANY (1893-1939)
The C.R. Patterson & Sons Company was a carriage building firm, and the first African American-owned automobile manufacturer. The company was founded by Charles Richard Patterson, who was born into slavery in April 1833 on a plantation in Virginia.
MAE C. JEMISON (1956- )
Mae C. Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama to Charlie and Dorothy Jemison. At the age of three, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois to further their educational opportunities. Her parents stressed the importance of education and when she was four, her uncle sparked her interest in archaeology and anthropology. In September of 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space.