The greatest lessons in life are found in our past. Those who don’t know their past, inevitably repeat it.
The origin of Black History Month dates back to 1925 when historian Carter G. Woodson petitioned American schools and communities to study African American history for one week. Originally known as Negro History Week, Woodson initially chose to celebrate during the second week of February to honor abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. As a result, communities and schools across America were inspired to host performances and celebrations.
In 1976, America’s bicentennial, Negro History Week was expanded to a month-long celebration now known as Black History Month. During the celebration that year, President Gerald Ford encouraged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
What follows is a list of important moments and facts in Black history:
- Madam CJ Walker was America’s first woman to become a self-made millionaire.
- The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
- Jerry Lawson brought interchangeable video games and 벳무브 into people’s homes with the invention of the Fairchild Channel F, the precursor to modern video game systems.
- Thurgood Marshall was the first African American ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
- Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American ever elected to the United States Senate.
- Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives.
- In 1922, aviator Bessie Coleman became the first African American woman to stage a public flight in America.
- Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award.
- Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space.
- Frederick Jones was an inventor best known for the development of refrigeration equipment used to transport food and blood during World War II.
From the abolition of slavery to the election of the first African American President, our distant and recent past not only shows us how far we have come, but how far we still need to go.