Did you know that February is African American History Month? The month-long observance, supported by several U.S. organizations including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institute, pays tribute to African Americans throughout history who overcame adversity to be seen as full citizens in America.
The awareness event began as “Negro History Week” in 1925. According to African American History Month’s official website, the week-long initiative “encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.” The public responded in an overwhelmingly positive way, and by 1950, “Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration.”
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the program to a month, officially giving life to African American History Month.
Let’s take a look at some famous figures in black history:
1. Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth was born a slave, but was able to escape. Known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, she was an advocate for freed slaves after the Civil War. Truth spoke of feminism and racial equality.
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Perhaps the most well-known civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is famous for seeking equality for African Americans. He helped organize historic events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1964.
3. Rosa Parks
According to History.com, “The leaders of the local black community organized a bus boycott that began the day Parks was convicted of violating the segregation laws.” When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, it sparked a lot of positive change for the African American community.
Who are some other important people in African American history?