The History of Black History Month

[caption id="attachment1660" align="alignright" width="197"]<a href="">Carter G, Woodson, he creator of Negro
History Week Carter G. Woodson, the creator of Negro History Week in 1926. Courtesy of the U.S. National Parks Service[/caption]

As we finish celebrating Black History Month this year, it seems like a good time to reflect on the history of Black History Month. For example, did you know that Black History Month actually started as Negro History Week in 1926? It’s only as of 1976 that U.S. Presidents have been designating all of February as Black History Month. Canada and the UK also celebrate Black History Month, Canada in February as well, and the UK in October.

Including all of the interesting news stories we have recording and exploring actual Black History, the collections also contain footage of Black History celebrations throughout history. There is a story from 1974, when it was still Black History Week. There are also two stories from 1979, one of the first Black History Month celebration. There are stories going from that early 1974 one, all the way through 2011. Some of these stories highlight specific historic African Americans, some focus on black history in Massachusetts.

One very interesting news story is an interview with Alex Haley, coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, discussing Black history and his views on Black History Month, which he sees, not as tokenism, but as an opportunity to remind people to explore their own roots. Check out an already digitized clip from the story available on Open Vault, and vote to have the full story digitized and streaming on our website.