Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2013 theme, At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, marks the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.
Check out HEC-TV’s black history and civil rights themed programming and articles:
Court documents found in St. Louis tell the inspiring story of courage when slaves from around the area fought for their freedom by challenging their owners in court.
Mission to Educate
An inspiring local documentary about the Catholic education system in St. Louis, Mission to Educate explores many of the pioneering moments of the St. Louis archdiocese. Archbishop Joseph Ritter, for example, took advantage of his power and leadership by ordering the end of segregation in St. Louis Catholic schools. This took place an entire seven years prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s order for integration.
More than a Banana Skirt
Learn about the life, loves and civil rights causes that impacted Josephine Baker’s life from surviving family members and others who have been touched by this multi-faceted entertainer.
You are Here: Underground Railroad
Host Alex Fees examines both the written and oral traditions surrounding the history of the Underground Railroad in St, Louis.
A Conversation With Paul Rusesabagina
A Mid-America Emmy Award winner, a one-on-one interview with the hotel manager who saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
A Conversation With Andrew Young
An extensive conversation with the noted civil rights leader and former ambassador.
A Conversation With Dick Gregory
HEC-TV host Cordell Whitlock chats with actor, comedian, activist, and Sumner High School graduate, Dick Gregory.
History in the First Person: Stories of the Civil Rights Movement
For many years, Sister Mary Antona Ebo has been hailed for her contributions to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The Franciscan Sister of Mary, who was among those who went to Selma, Ala., in March of 1965 to march for voting rights for African Americans, shares her story with students and viewers.
Constitution Day: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and it’s Current Implications
HEC-TV Live!, in partnership with the Missouri Bar, celebrates Constitution Day by taking an in depth look into what it took to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Act’s on-going impacts, and voting rights issues of today.
Jim Crow to Barack Obama
The exploration of the experiences African-Americans must face through conversations that uncover how issues of race and racism have changed in the USA over the last 100 years.
History in the First Person: Living Under Jim Crow Laws
What was it like to grow up in a segregated America? What did it mean when words like “equality” and “justice” seemed to have a different meaning for different people in American society? How were all people affected when treatment under the law could be so different?
Constitution Day: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
HEC-TV Live!, in partnership with The Missouri Bar, celebrated Constitution Day 2014 by taking an in depth look into what it took to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Constitutional concepts behind the Act, the Act’s major provisions, and its on-going impacts.