Black History Month
The remembrance can be traced back to 1920, when historian Carter G. Woodson – the son of former slaves and the second African American person to earn a degree from Harvard University – successfully urged the creation of "Negro History and Literature Week." That week became “Negro History Week” in 1926.
Although Woodson died in 1950, his legacy continued to grow as more and more cities and organizations across the country commemorated the special week. The week evolved into Black History Month starting in 1976, our nation’s bicentennial, when President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of African Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The commemoration always has been held in February in order to honor the birthdates of two men whose actions dramatically impacted the lives and history of African Americans: President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12), who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and abolitionist & former slave Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14).
• Thomas L. Jennings (1791-1859) was the first African American to receive a patent in 1821, for a dry-cleaning process. He used the money earned from the patent to purchase relatives out of slavery and support abolitionist causes.
• Judy W. Reed was the first African American woman to receive a patent in 1884 for a hand-operated machine used to knead and roll dough.
• Jack Johnson became the first African-American man to hold the World Heavyweight Champion boxing title in 1908. He held on to the belt until 1915.
• Black History Month began as "Negro History Week" in 1926.
• Track and field star Jesse Owens (1913-1980) broke many records at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, including becoming the first athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympiad.
• Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1967. He served until 1991.
• Shirley Chisholm in 1968 was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1972, she was the first major party African-American candidate and the first female candidate for president of the United States.
• In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.
• On February 12, 2009, the NAACP marked its 100th anniversary. The organization was founded on the centennial anniversary of the birth of former president Abraham Lincoln.
• Music composer and producer Quincy Jones is the most Grammy-nominated artist in the history of the awards with 76 nominations and 26 awards.
ON THE WEB
The interactive Web site explores key places, people and movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, Rosa Parks and the Apollo Theater. The site includes an interactive timeline, videos and quizzes.
Among the offerings on the interactive Web site are a timeline, facts, videos and profiles of 65 African American icons.
Find more information and high-resolution images on the PBS PressRoom at
TV One celebrates “Our History Month” by taking viewers “Way Black When” in February.
Library of Congress
African-American Mosaic: Mosaic is the first Library-wide resource guide to the institution's African- American collections. Covering the nearly 500 years of the black experience in the Western hemisphere, the Mosaic surveys the full range, size, and variety of the Library's collections, including books, periodicals, prints, photographs, music, film, and recorded sound.
African-American Odyssey: Five-year effort includes images and text. Topics include "African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship," "The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress," "Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s–1960s," "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936–1938" and "Slaves and the Courts, 1740–1860."
African American History Month: A fine collection of links to material in honor of African American History month in February. Includes links to collections, images, and audio and video sources for individuals such as Carter G. Woodson ("father" of African American History Month) and athlete Althea Gibson; and topics such as performing arts, civil rights, and slavery.
Culture and Change: Black History in America: Meet famous African Americans, listen to jazz music, publish your own writing, and explore history with an interactive timeline.
Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide to Black History
A good collection free resources from EB. Including Biographies, Timelines, a Multimedia Gallery, Images, Learning Activities, and an Internet Guide.
Kids Domain: Black History Links
Activities, quizzes, and educational resources for young people from Kidsdomain.com.