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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Black History Month 2011: Facts on the Annual Celebration

Yesterday marked the start of Black History Month 2011,a resourceful month when African-American history is celebrated in the classroom, on television and in daily life.

One of the running good-natured jokes about Black History Month is that it just so happens to be celebrated in February -- the shortest month of the year. How did February become Black History Month? Surge Desk presents the history of, ah, the history month.

According to the Library of Congress, Black History Month has its roots in something called Negro History Week. In 1925, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, proposed Negro History Week as a way to encourage people to learn more about black history. He selected a week in February that included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The first Negro History Week was celebrated in February 1926. "The response was overwhelming," says the Library of Congress. "Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort."

In the early 1970s, Negro History Week was rechristened Black History Week to reflect the changing language used to describe African-Americans. Then, in 1976, as America observed its bicentennial, Black History Week was expanded to the full month we celebrate today.

Every February since 1976, the U.S. president issues a proclamation declaring the second month of the year Black History Month or National African American History Month.

You can read Barack Obama's 2010 National African American History Month proclamation here.

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