Black History Month is celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month of February.
American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week to commemorate the contributions that people of African descent have made to our nation.
The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for the celebration to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass.
In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents declare February National African-American History Month.
On Friday, Carleton College welcomed Dr. Ebony Utley, an assistant professor of communication studies at California State University, Long Beach, whose work focuses on popular culture, race and interpersonal relationships, to deliver the school's first convocation of February in celebration of Black History Month.
You can also read a personal essay on Patch about Black History Month from Azna Amira, a freelancer writer who attended Carleton in the late 1960s. Amira also has written about how Carleton and St. Olaf College strive to keep steady focus on black history while expanding to include later immigrant groups.
Here are some famous Black History Month trailblazers from Biography.com:
- Nathaniel Alexander was the first to patent the folding chair. His invention was designed to be used in schools, churches and at large social gatherings.
- Henry Blair, the second African-American to receive a patent, invented a corn seed planter in 1834 and a cotton planter in 1836. Blair could not read or write and signed his patent with an X.
- Joseph Winters invented a fire escape ladder in 1878.
- Sarah E. Goode invented a bed that folded up into a cabinet in 1885. Contrary to popular belief, she was not the first African-American woman to receive a patent, but the second.
- George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet electrographic camera, used in the 1972 Apollo 16 mission.
What events are going on to celebrate Black History Monday? Share them in the comments section.