BLACK HISTORY MONTH is a special time to learn about the way African Americans rose us from slavery to build better lives for themselves. It also reminds and informs us how African Americans have helped shape our country’s history and culture. Black History Month came about because of Dr. Carter G. Woodson whose parents were former slaves. He wrote many books and stories about Black history. In 1926, he came up with the idea for Negro History Week. In 1976, President Gerald Ford declared February to be Black History Month.
Black History Month is celebrated in February because February 12 is the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that made slavery illegal in southern states. Also February 14 is the birthday of Frederick Douglass who was an escaped slave who became famous for his work to end slavery.
Many Whites and African Americans–like Harriet Tubman–worked courageously to end slavery. Harriet was born a slave but was able to escape to the North to freedom. She risked her life many times to go back to the South to lead others to freedom through the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War (1860-1965) new laws were passed that gave African Americans freedom and other rights. However, African Americans were not treated fairly in many parts of the United States–with issues such as schools, restaurants, voting. Many Blacks and Whites joined together to make people aware of this unfair treatment. One such person was Rosa Parks (1913-2005) who refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. She was arrested, but her brave act inspired others to start a bus boycott. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was one of the most famous and successful civil rights leaders. He led the bus boycott in Montgomery and many other civil rights events to win fair treatment for Blacks which led to the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964.