African American History

The history of the United States of America cannot be accurately told without including the amazing contributions of the African American history makers that have always been a part of it.

From the first African slaves delivered to Jamestown in 1619 by Portuguese slave traders, African American history is rich and full of stories of heroism and bravery of African American men, women, and even children.  To honor these early Americans, and all other Americans of African descent since that time, the country celebrates Black History Month each year during the month of February.

This annual celebration of African American history was first begun as a week-long event in 1926, when it was called Negro History Week.  The brainchild of Carter G. Woodson, the month of February was chosen to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both men instrumental to African American history.  Woodson was director of the now-defunct Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

It was in 1976 that The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History designated the entire month to be a celebration of African American history.  At this time in America’s history, the contributions made by African Americans in shaping the nation were being overlooked in history books, except for the atrocities of the era of slavery in the country’s beginnings.

Although freedom from slavery was ratified in the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865, there was still a tremendous amount of racial injustice and discrimination present in American society.  In an effort to bring forward the many significant contributions made by black Americans throughout the nation’s history, Black History Month was proposed.  It was believed that by honoring our African American ancestors, social oppression and racial prejudices would be ended, once and for all.

The celebration of Black History Month today comes with a great deal of associated debate.  Some critics claim a degree of reverse discrimination is found in a celebration that is devoted to only those people of one ethnic group.  Others claim the significance of the event has become mere shallow ritual.

Still other critics claim that by separating black history from America’s history, no continuity and integration of all the nation’s peoples is achieved.  Indeed, Mr. Woodson himself hoped from the beginning that a celebration of black history would be only a temporary event as African American history was incorporated into the fabric of history of the country as a whole.

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