This month, Institutions across America are joining to honor generations of African Americans. The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, National Archives and Records Administration, The Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Smithsonian Institute are joining together to pay homage to African American pioneers of art, literature and civil rights during Black History Month.
Event highlights for 2011 include a travelling art exhibit (Kinsey Collection), a Smithsonian Family Day Celebration with some of the original Tuskegee Airmen, lectures by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw (National Gallery of Art), a national Youth Summit webcast, musical performances sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, and research seminars at the National Archives.
This years theme focuses on the contributions and values made during the Civil War in honoring the people of African descent.
Black History Month began as “Negro History Week” in 1926, by Carter G. Woodson. As a result of Woodson’s resolve to raise awareness of society’s contributions by African Americans, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), and chose February as the month to celebrate, alongside the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The event was received with overwhelming support as many Black History clubs were formed, teachers called for more classroom materials in an effort to enlighten their students, and whites from all backgrounds endorsed the occasion.
Much progress had been made since Woodson’s death in 1950. More Americans showed support and appreciation for the annual celebration, and city government leaders across the nation issued proclamations acknowledging the February as Black History Month.
For more information on these activities, visit the African American History Month website at africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.