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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    The History of Black History Month

    Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, remember and appreciate the struggles and accomplishments of African Americans.

    The month-long tribute began in 1920 by Carter G. Woodson — the son of a former slave and the second black person to receive a degree from Harvard, according to biography.com/blackhistory.

    Woodson believed it was important for black heritage to be preserved, so he created — along with fraternity Omega Psi Phi — Negro History and Literature Week, which was changed six years later to Negro History Week.

    The week in February, which was held on Feb. 12 and 14 was chosen to honor African Americans because it contains the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, who ordered the Emancipation Proclamation, and Frederick Douglass, a nationally known abolitionist. Woodson’s idea was to celebrate two men who changed the African American future.

    In 1970, Negro History Week was changed to Black History Month by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, who in 1976 decided to make it a month-long celebration.

    Each year carries a theme, and in 2009 the person who the association designated “will mark a water shed in American history” is President Barack Obama, according to the association’s website.

    This year Stony Brook University’s third annual celebration of Black History Month began with an opening ceremony with guest speaker Joyce S. Johnson, President and CEO of Black Equity Alliance.

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