In 1915, American historian Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, after attending the 50th anniversary of the emancipation in 1915. In February 1926, Woodson and the ASNLH launched the first Negro History Week. February was chosen in honor of the President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln who was born February 12; and for the famous abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass who was born February 14.
February 3, 1975, Gerald R. Ford urged U.S. citizens to set aside a week in observance of Black History Week. In 1976, during the Bicentennial year of our country's Independence, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to pay tribute to the contributions of African-Americans to the nation's life and culture through Black History Month.
Carter G. Woodson, statue in Huntington, W.Va. Image: Youngamerican
From the National Archives of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum