Black History Month was established initially as a week-long commemoration in 1926, when Carter Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, created the annual celebration to recognize the importance of African-American achievement. The event was first celebrated during the second week of February 1926, selected because it coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and abolitionist/ writer Frederick Douglass (February 14).
In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebrations, President Gerald Ford expanded the commemoration, officially recognizing African-American History Month. President Ford challenged Americans to “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
As all Americans celebrate the contributions of Black Americans to our nation’s history and identity this February, the John Carroll community is doing the same. As Megan Wilson-Reitz, Administrative Coordinator for Diversity and Equity in JCU’s DEI Division, points out, “African-American history is, of course, American history. Our nation’s economic and cultural realities would be unrecognizable without the contributions of Black Americans over the past four centuries. And yet, we can’t ignore that this history is still not fully integrated into the mainstream narratives of American history. In fact, there are some today who are working very hard to erase and omit some of this history from our national memory. Now more than ever, Black History Month is essential for us to correct the historical record and to assert that Black history is all of our history.”