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February is Black History Month. Now that we’ve got roses, chocolates, and sweethearts out of our system, it’s time to give due acknowledgment to this time of observance and remembrance. Let’s honor the contributions of African Americans by recognizing and learning a few facts about black history!
1) Black History Month started with a college fraternity. Yep, who’da thunk it? Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves and the second black person to graduate from Harvard University, prompted the fraternity Omega Psi Phi to create Negro History and Literature Week in 1920. Later on, the name was changed to Negro History Week and eventually became what we now know as Black History Month.
2) Black History Month is celebrated in February because both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born in February. In 1926, Woodson decided that Negro History Week would be celebrated in February as an homage to Lincoln, who was the U.S. president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and Douglass, who was a leading abolitionist of his time.
3) Black History Month became nationally recognized in 1976. This occurred in the midst of the Black Panther Movement of the 1970s.
4) Black History Month is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Both the U.S. and Canada celebrate in February, but in the U.K., it’s celebrated in the month of October.
5) Black History Month is about recognizing the many contributions of African Americans, including not only political activists, but also inventors, craftsmen, artists, and more. Did you know that George T. Sampson invented one of the first clothes dryers? Or that Thomas J. Martin patented the fire extinguisher? See more facts at biography.com, powertolearn.com, and this webpage about Little Known Black History Facts.
You can also check out Justin Bieber‘s homage to Black History Month on Saturday Night Live. Celebrating Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, Justin looks to the audience for love, and to educate everyone on black history. It’s all in good fun!