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October 23, 2014

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This Week in Black History: More African American Achievements

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What amazing events took place in African American history this week? Click the gallery below to learn more about black culture, history and contributions to American society you may not know.


The Origins of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson
was a coal miner and child of former slaves with enthusiasm for the historical documentation of the African-American experience. He decided as a young man that our stories needed to be recognized. After earning a Ph.D. from Harvard University in history, Carter became a Howard University professor. He then co-founded and financed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, with the lofty goal of having it both publish and fund research and writing projects about black history. After resigning as a professor, Woodson dedicated all of his time to the association, as well as to publishing books and resources about the black experience. One notable quarterly he edited was The Journal of Negro History, which was distributed worldwide.

In 1926, Woodson established Negro History Week, as it was called by the black fraternity Omega Psi Phi, to celebrate the achievements of Afrian-Americans. Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Through Woodson's promotion of the celebration in The Journal of Negro History, and by creating and distributing educational kits for children, Negro History Week gained in popularity. In 1976, it evolved into Black History Month.

Learn more about the past and current activities of Woodson's organization, now called the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.

Source: Henry Louis Gates & Cornel West, 'The African American Century' (Touchstone 2002)

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