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Dr Carter Woodson

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing our central role in American History.


Black History Month evolved out of “Negro History Week,” inspired by 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. Countries around the world such as, Canada and the United Kingdom, have devoted February as a month to celebrate Black history and the contribution of African Americans.

The story of Black History began in 1915 by Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, and the prominent minister, Jesse E. Moorland, founders of 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.

Carter G. Woodson

Marcus Garvey
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Origins of Black History Month:

In the decades that followed, prominent leaders in cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing "Negro History Week." By the late 1960s, with the help of 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 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.” Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society—from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more. 


The Black History Month 2023 theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how "African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial progroms and police killings," since the nation's earliest days. 

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Black Americans’ resistance to racial inequality has deep roots in U.S. history and has taken many forms – from slave rebellions during the colonial era and through the Civil War to protest movements in the 1950s, ’60s and today. But Black Americans have also built institutions to support their communities such as churches, colleges and universities, printing presses, and fraternal organizations. These movements and institutions have stressed the importance of freedom, self-determination and equal protection under the law. 


Black Americans have long articulated a clear vision for the kind of social change that would improve their lives. Here at Bethany, our aims are to continue the act of resistance against the white racialized framing of America’s ethos until there is justice and freedom for all.


“We are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

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