The end of February means an end to this year’s Black History Month, but that only has me thinking about its beginnings.
The annual observation of the triumphs and struggles of Black Americans hasn’t always been a month long. I can still remember it being Black History Week when I was in school — which itself was an achievement considering the attitudes of many of the white Americans in power.
In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, who has been called the “Father of Black History,” launched Negro History Week in the United States. He chose the second week in February to coincide with the birthdays of both President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed Confederate slaves in 1863, and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14), an enslaved American who escaped bondage and became an orator and abolitionist. Douglass is also credited as the man who pushed Lincoln to see the better angels of his nature and allow Black men to fight for themselves in the Civil War as well as making the abolition of slavery central to the conflict.