An outlook on African American history timeline and “Black History Month”

Sunday, 31 January 2021
Black History Month will kick off tomorrow. Black History Month will kick off tomorrow.

People of color have so long played a crucial role throughout American history. This role dated back to many centuries ago when the first African American servants arrived in the new land, the United States today.

African American people were first sent in the American colonies to serve as slaves to later become key-player figures in the history of America, to finally make huge impacts through their humble and successful contributions both nationwide and worldwide. They even continue to spread their influence until the present day. Among these outstanding Black American figures include:

  • Frederick Douglass, ex-slave, abolitionist, author and orator who contributed to African American liberation and civil rights.
  • Harriet Tubman, an iconic figure behind the famed “Underground Railroad” and through which she helped many Black people to escape from slavery.
  • Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist best-known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery.
  • Martin Luther King, Baptist minister, important civil rights leader and activist made famous for his stirring speech “I have a Dream”.
  • Edward W. Brooke is the first African American US senator who represented Massachusetts in the Senate.
  • Mae Jemison or Dr. Mae Jemison is the first African-American female Astronaut.
  • Barack Obama, the first African American US President, elected 44th President of the United States of America.
  • Kamala Harris, the America’s first black female Vice President who has been sworn in last week, on January 20, in front of the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
  • Amanda Gorman, an outstanding Black American woman poet who joined the President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for inauguration 2021 and was entitled the youngest known inaugural poet in US history.

African American History Month origin and celebration

Black History month is an annual observance that originated in the US. This is not viewed as a public holiday; instead, it is observed as a month-long annual celebration which runs throughout the month of February. The celebration that mostly aims at honoring and promoting the achievements by African Americans originally began with “the Negro History Week” initiated by Carter G. Woodson. Carter Godwin Woodson is an American historian who first popularized the Black studies field and introduced it into schools. He founded the ASNLH or “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History” in 1926 with Jesse E. Moorland and then sponsored a Negro history week, dedicated mainly to commemorating and promoting Black Americans’ accomplishments. This was chosen to be celebrated every second week of February which generally coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln –the US President behind the emancipation proclamation during the civil war in 1863 – and Frederick Douglass. The event really instilled communities and institutions’ interest for the celebration, driving them to outreach activities such as black history clubs, performances and lectures.

Black History Month was then officially recognized by the late 1960s partially thanks to the Civil rights movement which was spurred by many Black Americans’ growing awareness; and since then, every American President has appointed February as Black History Month with a designated specific theme each year.

For 2021, the Black History month theme will be “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity”. To celebrate, ‘The American’ will share many relevant stories throughout the whole month of February.

Sources: HISTORY / Africanamericanhistory.gov

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This website was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.