Origins of African
American History Month go back to
1926 and Carter G. Woodson.
According to infoplease.com, it
was fi rst recognized as “Negro History
Woodson, who established The
Journal of Negro History, launched
the celebration as an initiative to bring
national attention to the contributions
of black people throughout American
history, the Web site stated.
Woodson was very active in the
Harlem Renaissance, Walker said.
His timing was perfect to establish a
In the late 19th century, he could
not have done it, she said, and in the
1950s it would have put too much
pressure on the Civil Rights Move-
According to infoplease.com,
Woodson chose the second week
of February because it contained the
birthdays of two men who greatly
infl uenced the black population
— Frederick Douglass and Abraham
The week blended everything
that was going on in the Harlem
Renaissance while giving black
people a sense of identity, Walker
“The Harlem Renaissance was
about literature, dance, art, and its
historical ramifi cations for these
people who were just fi nding out that
it was OK to say you were descended
from Africa,” Walker said. “It was
radical because Africa was still
considered the Dark Continent.”
Calling someone “African” was
considered derogatory, she said.
The establishment of Negro
History Week was a great moment in
history, Walker said, because it hap-
pened in such an important period.
“It came at a time when there
was excitement and exuberance and
experimentation of what it meant to
be African American,” Walker said,
referring to the Harlem Renaissance.
The week of celebration was very
signifi cant for blacks, Walker said.
“Coming out of a segregated
environment, it was the event of the
year,” she said.
By the mid-1960s “Negro History
Week” became known as “Black His-
tory Month,” Walker said.
“It was quite signifi cant when
it became Black History Month,”
Walker said. “Black was considered a
derogatory term when growing up, but
by the 1960s it was a proclamation of
the beauty of a people.”