Black History Month traces its roots to 1926, when Harvard-trained historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, established Negro History Week. This week was intentionally chosen to align with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
By 1969, Kent State’s Black United Students (BUS) organization, with support from campus educators, began to advocate that the entire month of February be commemorated as Black History Month. Students Carl Gregory (Saiti Dihati) and Dwayne White (Brother Fargo/Ibrahim Al-khafiz), staff member Dr. Milton Wilson and faculty member Dr. Edward Crosby played the largest role in this planning. According to the Kent State website, the first observance of Black History Month in the nation took place at Kent State in 1970 thanks to the hard work and dedication of students and faculty.
It would be another six years before February received a formal national designation as Black History Month. In 1976, President Gerald Ford made the designation to coincide with the bicentennial celebration, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Each year since, the standing president has designated February as Black History Month and endorses a theme to center the celebrations. The Black History Month 2023 theme of “Black resistance” explores how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms.”
Attend an event in your area:
- CBS’s Events to mark Black History Month in Minnesota
- Kare 11’s List of Celebrating Black History Month in the Twin Cities
- Celebrating Black History in St. Paul
- Meet Minneapolis’ Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Minneapolis
- City of Minneapolis events
Learn more about Black History Month: