Black History Month: Home

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This Year's Theme

African Americans and the Arts

2024 Theme: Click Here for more information

A new theme is chosen each year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded by Dr. Barter G. Woodson in 1915. 

Made possible by the joint efforts of:

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle;  the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Martin Luther King Jr.

What are the origins of the commemoration?

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

Databases for Research